right: flightless birds! Do you ever wonder how flightless birds get
Birds - now, how did that happen? Scientists believe that
the flightless birds evolved from birds that did
fly once upon a time. They may have gradually lost their need and power
for flight because they had no predators. It's a skill they shouldn't
have given up, considering the number of 'flightless birds' that are now
This category includes ostriches, rheas, cassowaries, emus and Kiwis, but we've also included two other orders: tinamou and penguins.
There are no true species of flightless birds in North America. The African Ostrich, the Australian emu, cassowaries and kiwis and the South American rheas are all 'ratite' birds, meaning they lack a breast bone. Other species are known to be flightless (penguins, for example), but they are not classified as ratites.
On oceanic islands, there are (or once were) flightless cormorants, grebes and rails. New Zealand has a flightless owl-parrot called a kakapo. There is a flightless rail called a weka. In the Falklands, there is a flightless steamer duck and there is a flightless brown teal species on Auckland Island. Long, long ago there were dodos and auks and the magnificent elephant bird of Madagascar. The elephant bird was nine or ten feet tall, and may have weighed about 965 pounds. Can you imagine one of those visiting your bird feeder? "How much does an elephant bird eat?" " As much as it wants to...."
The flightless birds of today are fascinating. The penguin does its flying underwater. The ostrich is the largest bird in the world. Get your head out of the sand! Read all about flightless birds.