Birds are a symbol of freedom because of their ability to fly. Transportation such as airplanes and bullet trains were modeled from their body structures to mimic their speed, balance, and flight. However, some are flightless birds that have other unique characteristics that made them stand out among the rest of the bird species.
Here is a list of the world’s flightless birds:
- Penguin. Penguins are one of the world’s favorite flightless birds. They are heavy around the middle and they have a funny way of walking. While penguins cannot fly, they are excellent swimmers. Penguin wings, a.k.a. flippers help them swim and catch fish. They thrive in extremely cold weather, although one species called Galapagos penguins live in a tropical habitat.
- Steamer duck. Steamer ducks have four species, and only one of them can fly. Even so, that one species can barely lift itself off the ground due to its weight. These birds are known to be aggressive and territorial, often ending up killing each other and other larger birds.
- Weka. Weka is another flightless bird that is dwindling in population. Although they are only as small as a chicken, they are adept at swimming and robbing. Yes, you heard that right. They steal shiny, attractive items, anything that looks interesting to them. They like to take other birds’ eggs and chicks too, and all sorts of food.
- Ostrich. The ostrich is the world’s largest bird. Their inability to fly is compensated by their skill in running. Using their long and powerful legs, they run as fast as 45 miles per hour on empty land. The ostrich has an average height of 9 feet tall and can weigh more than three average-sized people. Their small wings and enormous weight prevent them from flying. They are also known to lay super-sized eggs.
- Kakapo. Also known as the “owl parrot,” Kakapo has the combined features of an owl and a duck. Its head resembles that of an owl, and it walks like a duck with its short legs and wide feet. Weighing around 3.5 kg, it is considered the heaviest parrot in the world. Sadly, Kakapos are an endangered species, and there are only about 150 Kakapos alive to this day.
- Takahe. Takahe is a flightless vegetarian bird native in New Zealand. They went officially instinct in 1898 after the last known Takahe had died, but they were seen again in the Murchison Mountains in 1948. As of 2017, there are 347 surviving Takahes, and all efforts are being made to continuously protect and multiply them.
- Kiwi. Kiwi is another flightless bird hailing from New Zealand. Compared to other birds, they look rather odd with their short, hair-like feathers instead of long, glossy ones. Hidden under their feathers are undeveloped wings which are pretty much useless. Female kiwis lay only one egg at a time, but the egg can weigh up to 1 pound.
- Cassowary. The Cassowary is the third largest bird in the world, next to the Emu and the Ostrich. It is the only bird to have the physical features capable of killing a human. Cassowaries are tall, heavy, and powerful; and they have long, sharp claws that are used as weapons against their enemies. They also have a helmet on top of their head that helps them make bird sounds and serves as protection against harsh elements of the forest.
- Emu. The Emu is native to Australia and is the second-largest bird in the world. It looks just like an ostrich except for their feathers and their size. Emus adapt well to different temperatures. They have strong legs capable of running more than 30 miles per hour. They have vestigial wings that flap as they run, helping them gain balance and speed. Female emus are known to fight over one mate.
- Greater Rhea. The Greater Rhea is a large flightless bird native to South America, particularly in Brazil and Argentina. Rheas are almost identical to an ostrich. Unlike other flightless birds, they have large wings, but not powerful enough to support their size. The purpose of their wings is to give them balance and to help them switch to different directions when they run.
Even if these birds cannot fly, each has its unique characteristics that set them apart from the rest. Some have strong legs, some are skilled swimmers, and some are meant for extreme temperatures. Although most birds belong to the sky, some are made to traverse the land.