If you are a bird watcher or enthusiast, you’ve often seen birds fly in the sky, build nests, and have babies. But have you ever stopped to wonder which of these birds is the fastest? If this question has been on your mind, you are reading the right article.
The fastest bird in the world is the peregrine falcon. When the peregrine falcon flies normally, it can reach speeds of 40-60mph. However, when it chases prey, it dives, reaching speeds of up to 242mph. Are there other fast birds apart from the peregrine falcon? Sure!
Fastest Birds in The World
Here are our top 20 fastest birds in the world.
- Peregrine Falcon
Taking the first position is the peregrine falcon. They aren’t only the fastest birds in the world; peregrine falcons are the fastest animals on the planet. Yes, we know you are probably asking, “where do you place the cheetah?” We’d have you know that peregrine falcons are faster than cheetahs. While cheetahs run at 70 mph, peregrine falcons reach speeds of 242 mph. These birds fly at 40-60 mph while cruising through the sky. However, when the peregrine falcon is chasing prey, it will dive at speeds of up to 242mph.
So, what makes the peregrine falcon so fast? It is all thanks to their large keel. The keel is the large breastbone birds use to cut through the air. Peregrines are blessed with a large keel which allows them to cut through the air much better than any other bird.
The wings of the peregrine falcon are curved and pointed at the tip. This means that the body of the peregrine falcon is very streamlined for flight. When the peregrine falcon is diving, it will sweep its wings back and place them against its body, giving the bird more speed.
The lung of the peregrine falcon also plays an important role in how fast these birds are. Some birds may have the streamlined body of a peregrine falcon but can’t attain its speed because their lungs can’t handle such speeds. The respiratory system of a peregrine falcon is very advanced, which allows it to fly at speeds that will cause other birds not to breathe.
- Golden Eagle
Coming in second is the Golden Eagle. The golden eagle is considered one of North America’s largest birds. This bird can reach speeds of up to 200 mph. Their diet consists of small mammals such as rabbits, prairie dogs, and squirrels. They are also not beyond taking down large prey such as coyotes.
The golden eagle has a wingspan of 6.5 to 9.8 feet, and its feathers are a mix of black and brown colors. However, the head of this eagle is golden. The eyes of the golden eagle are quite large, taking up most of its head. Perhaps the eye size is a contributing factor to the awesome sight of this bird. The golden eagle can see prey from long distances.
The golden eagle reaches its maximum speed when it is diving for prey. They have very developed muscles that allow them to soar in the sky for long periods.
In the third position, we have another falcon. The gyrfalcon is known to be the largest falcon in the world. They have a wingspan of 123 centimeters. When the gyrfalcon dives, it can reach up to 130 mph speeds. The gyrfalcon will also soar for long distances as it looks for food. When this falcon is soaring, it flies at 60 mph.
The gyrfalcon takes after their peregrine falcon brothers while diving for food. They attain their fastest speed when they dive for prey. The gyrfalcon is a very prolific hunter, just like the secretary bird. The gyrfalcon can maneuver its wing in the middle of a flight. With the maneuvering, the gyrfalcon can slow down or go faster as they dive for their prey.
- Frigate Bird
The frigate bird is known to be a large bird. The frigate bird lives in tropical regions along the coast. Did you know that the frigate bird can fly for up to a week without stopping? This is because of their powerful flight muscles. They can fly up to 95 mph in terms of speed. The frigate bird isn’t a land bird, and they are notorious for looking awkward on land and walking improperly.
Because of the frigate bird’s awkward experiences on land, it would spend most of its life flying. These birds are such good fliers that they will sleep as they fly. When the frigate bird wants to catch prey, it will glide and then swoop down, catching the target in the middle of the flight. The frigate bird also likes to harass other birds that have caught prey and take the catch from them.
- Red-Breasted Merganser
The red-breasted merganser comes in fifth on our list. They fly at 81 mph. The red-breasted merganser is described as a diving duck with a sharp, red beak. This bird has a recognizable frazzled tuft of feathers that rests on its head.
The red-breasted merganser is a very fast bird when they are in the sky. However, they tend to take off pretty slowly. Before they can take off to the sky, the red-breasted merganser must have a running start. Picture how a plane takes off, and you’d understand how the merganser takes to the air.
- Gray Headed Albatross
Of course, by the name of this bird, you can guess the color of its head. The gray-headed albatross is an incredible flier and can fly long distances. This bird flies at 78.9 mph, and they seldom stop when flying. This is because the gray-headed albatross has a powerful wing that can be used to glide using the ocean winds.
The gray-headed albatross travels fast and also maintains its speed. They have been known to keep their maximum speed for eight hours. This is because the gray-headed albatross doesn’t fly but glides as it uses the ocean wind.
Just like the red-breasted merganser, the canvasback is a duck. However, these birds are very fast fliers. They fly at 73 mph and range in Central North America. The canvas back flies in flocks using a V-shaped formation. If you are an avid bird watcher, you must have seen other bird species use the V-shaped formation.
- Ruby Throated Hummingbird
Coming in the eighth position is our heartthrob, the ruby-throated hummingbird. When it comes to distance, the ruby-throated hummingbird isn’t considered a fast bird. However, when it comes to how fast they beat their wings, the ruby-throated hummingbird takes the lead.
The ruby-throated hummingbird can beat its wings up to 200 times per second. They outrank other hummingbirds that can only beat their wings at 90 beats per second. The diet of the hummingbird is nectar and small insects.
The ruby-throated hummingbird reserves its renowned wing-beating skills for courtship. When the ruby-throated hummingbird is just going about daily, it will beat its wings around 53 beats per second. Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backward thanks to their wing beat speeds.
- Red-Tailed Hawk
The average speed of the red-tailed hawk is about 20 to 40 mph. So, why are they on this list? Because when compared to the other birds on this list, the red-tailed hawk can be considered a slow bird. However, the speed demons in red-tailed hawks come out while chasing down their prey. The red-tailed hawk will reach speeds of 120 mph when they hunt prey. These birds are also blessed with incredible eyesight, which allows them to see prey from long distances.
- Eurasian Hobby
The Eurasian hobby looks like a falcon because they belong to the falcon family. They also hunt the way birds in the falcon family hunt. The Eurasian hobby reaches speeds of up to 100 mph, and they are very popular because of how they fly.
The Eurasian hobby is a badass flier. Even when they are in mid-flight, they will dive and complete acrobatics. They will dive and beat their wings steadily when they want to sustain speed. The Eurasian hobby is such an exceptional flier that it will pass food to its counterparts as they fly. As part of their courtship ritual, this is done from the males to the females.
- White-Throated Needletail
The white-throated needletail belongs to the swift family. They are the largest birds in the swift family and are also called storm birds. This bird is also regarded as the fastest-flapping bird. So, if we organized this list based on the fastest flapping bird, the white-throated needletail would be the first.
The white-throated needletail doesn’t dive like falcons. However, the white-throated needletail moves quickly on a level flight.
- Spur Winged Goose
The Spur Winged Goose belongs to the waterfowl species. They fly at 88 mph speeds and are known to be one of the largest birds in the waterfowl species. They are found in sub-Saharan Africa and are the largest goose on the planet. Even though the spur-winged goose is a big bird, they still fly at incredible speeds. Their speed helps them to migrate long distances during the winter.
- Common Swifts
The common swift flies at 22-36 mph when they aren’t mating. However, the common swift can fly at 45 mph when they are breeding. There are records of common swift attaining speeds of up to 69.3 mph. When the common swift mate, they double their speed by modifying the shape of their wings.
Did you know that the common swift can stay in the air for ten months without stopping or landing? That goes to show you just how good these birds are at flying.
- Saker Falcon
The falcon family seems to carry the day when it comes to bird speed. The number 14 on our list is the saker falcon. The saker falcon can reach speeds of up to 200 mph. They reach that neck-break speed when they are diving. While they are soaring, saker falcons can reach speeds of 93 mph.
When they dive to catch prey, the saker falcon will paralyze the prey using one quick strike of their talons.
- Anna’s Hummingbird
Another of our little hummingbird friends makes the list. Anna’s hummingbird is a little bird that soars to a height of around 130 feet before diving at 61 miles per hour to attract females-The Anna hummingbird holds the record for being the only bird that can do that maneuver. However, Anna’s hummingbird diving performance only lasts for 12 seconds. It’s a shame that such a beautiful diving performance doesn’t last long.
- Eurasian teal
The Eurasian teal may look gentle and calm, but underrate these guys at your own risk. The Eurasian teal can hit speeds of 60 mph when they fly. The wingspan of these birds can reach an average of 7-8 inches. Their wingspan plays a role in the speed abilities of the Eurasian teal. They weigh about 12 to 13 ounces.
No other bird is as fast as the ostrich when it comes to land speed. The ostrich is too heavy to fly, but when it comes to running, they can run at 45 mph. They also take the number one spot as the fastest animal on two legs.
The ostrich has very powerful legs, which help them run for long distances. Also, you don’t want to be at the receiving end of an ostrich kick. The kick of an ostrich can kill an adult human. The ostrich has a small wing, which helps them maintain balance when running. The wings also help them to steer.
- Greater Rhea
The greater rhea cannot fly because of their size. They share this problem in common with the ostrich. The greater rhea is also the largest bird in the Americas. They can attain speeds of up to 35 mph. Despite its sheer size and speed, predators often bullied and ate the greater rhea. To solve this problem, they gather in flocks of 100 to protect themselves.
Ostriches and Emus are similar. You may often mistake the two if you are an amateur bird watcher. However, emus are smaller and look disheveled, as if they just got out of a fight. Emus are also excellent runners and will reach speeds of 31 mph. They are flightless birds because they are too heavy to fly. Emus can be found in Australia, and their greatest threat is dingoes.
- Gentoo Penguin
We know you didn’t expect to see a penguin on this list. But don’t kid yourself; the gentoo penguin is quite fast. They can swim as fast as 22.3 mph even though they are the world’s third-largest penguins.
They have streamlined bodies which allows them to attain maximum speeds. They range around the Antarctic Peninsula and sub-Antarctic islands.