10 Fastest Running Birds In The World

Many people consider birds to be among the most beautiful creatures on Earth. This is because they’ve been around for millions of years and are technically dinosaurs.

Their melodies and bird cries resounded throughout time, and their vibrant feathers have been depicted in visual art, fashion, and literature.

In addition to being extraordinarily beautiful, they are also highly athletic. A number of the world’s fastest creatures are birds. For example, the peregrine falcon can reach up to 242 miles per hour in flight, making it the fastest bird in the sky. Regarding speed, birds can keep up with any other terrestrial animal.

Listed here are some of the world’s fastest running birds.

10. Chicken

Speed: 9 miles per hour
Habitat/Range: Worldwide; Native to Southeast Asia
 Scientific Name: Gallus gallus domesticus
 Average Lifespan: 5-8 years

Chickenphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Around 150 distinct chicken breeds vary in size, color, and pattern. The original chickens (red junglefowl) reside in the Southeast Asian rainforests. People in the forests of Southeast Asia maintained red junglefowl around 4,000 years ago; they were the ancestors of chickens.

Roosters crow very loudly, usually very early in the morning, but they can crow at any time of day. Other roosters perceive their loud cry as a territorial signal. Additionally, they may be rather aggressive birds. This bird was likely initially domesticated for cockfights, not for consumption.

Typically, roosters may be distinguished from hens by their distinctive plumage, which includes long, flowing tails and bright, pointed feathers on their necks.

With a population of over 24 billion, there are more chickens than any other bird worldwide. Chickens supply people with two types of food: their flesh, also known as a chicken, and the eggs they lay.

Did You Know:

Chickens have exceptional memory and can identify over 100 faces of their own kind and humans.


9. Tinamou

Speed: 10 miles per hour
Habitat/Range: Central and South America
 Scientific Name: Tinamidae
 Average Lifespan: 10-15 years

Tinamouphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

The tinamou is a bird in the family of Tinamidae. There are about 47 different species of these birds. The species is indigenous to Mexico, Central America, and South America. These birds inhabit subtropical and tropical rainforests, montane forests, and tropical savannas. Some of them inhabit marshes and lowlands, such as the Cinereous tinamou.

Some species, such as the Ornate tinamou, inhabit high-altitude environments. However, the majority of species differ in size and coloring. They have a limited flight time and primarily dwell on the ground.

Tinamous are predominantly able to walk and sprint quickly on the ground. They are poor flyers with awkward yet short-distance flying. Some species roost in trees, while the majority roost on the ground. They forage on the ground and may use the bill to dig for food. Some species consume tiny vertebrates and seeds, roots, fruits, and arthropods.

Did You Know:

Tinamou eggs are renowned for their exquisite glossy and deep monochromatic hues, ranging from red or purplish black to sky blue or brilliant green.


8. Weka

Speed: 12 miles per hour
Habitat/Range: New Zealand
 Scientific Name: Gallirallus australis
 Average Lifespan: 13-15 years

Wekaphoto source: Flickr via Sid Mosdell

The weka is one of New Zealand’s most recognizable huge non-flying birds. Weka are three to six times bigger than banded rails, considered their closest flying cousins, and likely descended from a flighted common ancestor. Weka are attractive birds that are frequently drawn to human activities.

This makes an encounter with a weka a nature highlight for many individuals, as the inquisitive bird looks for any food item the intruder may have brought.

Commonly known as the Maori hen or woodhen, It is native only to New Zealand. Four subspecies are listed; however, genetic evidence only supports two (northern and southern). Weka are robust brown birds that are around the size of chickens. As omnivores, they primarily consume insects and fruit.

Did You Know:

The weka bird can excrete its whole body weight in just one day.


7. Takahe

Speed: 13 miles per hour
Habitat/Range: New Zealand
 Scientific Name: Porphyrio hochstetteri
 Average Lifespan: 5-9 years

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The takahe is a large, flightless species of rail native to New Zealand. Rails are a family of ground-dwelling birds that inhabit all continents, excluding Antarctica. The takahe is an endemic species, meaning that it is only found in its native New Zealand and nowhere else on Earth.

Populations of untamed takahe inhabit severe alpine environments. They eat on a kind of alpine grass known as snow tussock. They utilize their powerful beaks to slice and peel the resilient blades. When snow covers the tussock throughout the winter, takahe migrate to wooded regions for refuge and to eat fern rhizomes.

Once the snow has melted, takahe return to the grasslands to nest among the tussocks.

Did You Know:

The takahe was assumed to be extinct for several years before its rediscovery in 1948.


6. Guam Rail

Speed: 15 miles per hour
Habitat/Range: Guam
 Scientific Name: Gallirallus owstoni
 Average Lifespan: 5-9 years

Guam Railphoto source: Flickr via U.S. Department of Agriculture

With a slender body designed for sprinting through dense marsh grass, weeds, and underbrush, the Guam rail is a flightless yet swift-moving bird. Guam rails are shy, territorial birds typically spotted bathing or grazing near roadways or field margins.

The call consists of a loud, penetrating whistle or sequence of whistles, typically produced by two or more birds in reaction to a loud noise, another rail’s sound, or other disturbances. Individuals will nearly always answer the call of another rail, although the species is typically mute.

It is one of the few Guam-native birds that occur more commonly in second-growth or mixed forests than in mature, homogeneous forests.

The Guam rail is an omnivorous species that forage for snails, slugs, insects, geckos, vegetable waste, seeds, and flowers from short grasses and bushes along field borders and roadsides, seldom far from shelter.

Did You Know:

The natural population of the Guam rail was originally thought to be extinct. However, colonies of the bird have been formed on Rota and Cocos Islands near Guam, and it is currently considered critically endangered.


5. Roadrunner

Speed: 20 miles per hour
Habitat/Range: Southwestern United States and Mexico
 Scientific Name: Geococcyx
 Average Lifespan: 7-8 years

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Although they may not resemble their cuckoo relatives, roadrunners are related to those birds. Due to their exceptional sprinting abilities, roadrunners are primarily terrestrial but can fly for brief periods.

Roadrunners are omnivores that consume nearly anything they find on the ground, including rattlesnakes and other poisonous prey. Contrary to their depiction in cartoons, roadrunners are far slower than coyotes. However, they are rather swift for birds.

The average land speed of a roadrunner is around 20 miles per hour, yet the bird may go far faster for brief periods.

Did You Know:

Many Native American cultures hold roadrunners in high regard because of their legendary power, speed, and stamina.


4. Cassowary

Speed: 30 miles per hour
Habitat/Range: Tropical rainforests of Australia and New Guinea
 Scientific Name: Casuarius
 Average Lifespan: 40-50 years

Cassowaryphoto source: Flickr via Neil Tackaberry

Large and flightless, the cassowary is most strongly related to the emu. It is coated in thick, two-quilled black feathers that appear to be hair from a distance. These feathers are not built for flying but for defense in the cassowary’s rainforest home, keeping the bird safe from the sharp thorns on many rainforest plants.

Long, robust quills protrude from the small wings of the bird.

Cassowaries are reclusive and difficult to see, at least in their natural rainforest settings. They are not aggressive, and assaults are uncommon. However, if provoked or enraged, they may cause significant harm. Each 3-toed foot possesses a dagger-like claw up to 4 inches long on its toe.

The cassowary may cut any predator in two with a single fast kick. In addition, the cassowary’s powerful legs enable it to run up to 30 kilometers per hour through the dense forest undergrowth.

Did You Know:

The purpose of the cassowary’s casque, or helmet, on top of its head, remains a mystery to experts. As of now, its precise function remains unknown.


3. Emu

Speed: 31 miles per hour
Habitat/Range: Australia
 Scientific Name: Dromaius novaehollandiae
 Average Lifespan: 5-10 years

Emuphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

The emu is a member of the ratite group, the most primitive family of contemporary birds. The emu is the world’s second-largest living bird, second only to the ostrich. The adult female emu is bigger and heavier than its male counterpart.

Emus inhabit most of Australia’s landmass; however, they avoid towns, deep woods, and deserts. Usually solitary, emus can create massive flocks when migrating in search of better food supplies. Often, flocks travel great distances in search of food and water. Emus migrate northward in the summer and southward in the winter in Western Australia.

Except for the neck and head, which are generally bare and bluish-black, adult Emus are covered with shaggy grey-brown feathers. The wings are drastically diminished, yet the legs are long and robust.

Did You Know:

In 1932, Australia launched a war against emus because around 20,000 raided the farmlands of war veterans. The Australian army carefully prepared for the fight against emus. However, the emus ultimately won the battle despite employing Lewis machine guns and 10,000 rounds of ammo.


2. Rhea Bird

Speed: 40 miles per hour
Habitat/Range: Southeastern South America; Bushlands and grasslands
 Scientific Name: Rhea
 Average Lifespan: 10-15 years

Rhea Birdphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Rhea belongs to the category of flightless birds. This is the biggest South American bird. Two species of rhea exist the Greater or American Rhea and Darwin’s Rhea. They vary in size and in the types of environments they inhabit. The broad grasslands, pampas, and forests of Southeastern South America are home to the rhea.

Although rheas resemble ostriches, they are considerably smaller. The difference between them and ostriches is that they have three toes on each foot. Long legs and a long neck characterize the rhea. A rhea’s head, neck, and thighs are covered with feathers but lacks tail feathers. The majority of its feathers are gray and brown, with white underparts.

Did You Know:

Although their enormous wings are ineffective for flying, they are utilized for balance and direction changes when running.


1. Ostrich

Speed: 45 miles per hour
Habitat/Range: Africa; Savanna and desert areas
 Scientific Name: Struthio camelus
 Average Lifespan: 30-40 years

Ostrichphoto source: Flickr

Ostriches are excellent runners and can achieve speeds of up to 45 miles per hour, making them the fastest running bird in the world. Unfortunately, ostriches are also the world’s biggest and heaviest birds. Due to their mass, they are incapable of flight and cannot ascend into the air.

An ostrich’s muscular, long legs enable it to travel 10 to 16 feet in a single step. These legs can also serve as lethal weapons. Ostrich kicks can kill humans and prospective predators like lions. Each foot possesses a long, sharp claw.

The ostrich has a long neck, large eyes, and long eyelashes and has the biggest eye of any terrestrial mammal. The diameter of an ostrich’s eye is about 2 inches. Their long neck and exceptional vision allow them to keep an eye out for predators from large distances.

Did You Know:

Contrary to common perception, ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand when they feel threatened, although they lie down with their heads against the ground.

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