The largest bird in the world is the ostrich, a flightless bird that weighs up to 160 kg and stands almost 3 m. high. Although the ostrich is native to Africa, ostriches are farmed around the world including countries as far north as Finland. An ostrich egg weighs approximately 1.4 pounds, the largest of any bird egg in the world. After hatching, it can live up to 70 years, but its average life span is 50 years.
They are listed with the IUCN as being of Least Concern, but were at one time almost hunted to extinction in the 1800’s for their leather and feathers (which were used to make fashionable ladies hats and feather dusters). Ostrich leather is known to be very strong, and the meat is said to taste like beef. In some parts of the world, ostriches are ridden in races, but due to their less than genial demeanor and human rights concerns, this practice isn’t wide spread.
The bird with the biggest wing span in the world is the Wandering Albatross whose wing span can be over 5 m from tip to tip! The Wandering Albatross lives in the southern oceans of the world and spends most of its life at sea except to take short breaks and mate. It is a frequent visitor to New Zealand and Australia. It is listed with the IUCN as being Vulnerable.
The biggest flying bird by weight is the Great Bustard, averaging 12 kg. One large fellow was found to weigh close to 21 kg! It can be found in Europe and the warmer parts of Asia. It is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, but European countries are making efforts to protect this bird, which, interestingly enough is the national bird of Hungary.