There are over 10,000 species of birds in the world. Some, like the bumblebee hummingbird, are very small. Others, like the common ostrich, do not fly. If you consider birds that fly, then these are the largest birds when you consider their wingspan.
#8 Largest Flying Birds in the World: Marabou Stork – 10-foot Wingspan
The Marabou stork, sometimes called the undertaker bird, lives in wet and arid areas south of the Saharan Desert. This bird that typically lives near landfills weighs up to 17 pounds. This black bird looks like it is wearing white underpants, especially when viewed from the rear. There are isolated reports of birds with wingspans up to 13 feet. These birds reach sexual maturity when they are about four years old, and they mate for life. They are scavengers who can often live near human settlements.
#7 New Zealand’s Star Bird: Northern Royal Albatross – 10-foot Wingspan
The northern royal albatross has a wingspan of 10 feet. This endangered bird lives on New Zealand’s Chatham Islands, Taiaroa Head, and South Island. While there is still reason for concern, the number of these birds is steadily increasing. This bird weighs about 16 pounds and does not mate until it is eight years old. They feed on fish that are dead or dying near the surface of the water.
These birds perform elaborate mating rituals on the water and in the air. They build large nests using plant materials on the shoreline. Both the male and the female help to incubate the eggs and raise the young.
#6 Largest Flying Birds in the World: Andean Condor – 11-foot Wingspan
The Andean condor lives in the Andes mountains. It is the national symbol of Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. This bird that weighs about 29 pounds is listed as vulnerable. Once this bird is air-bound, it seldom flaps its wings but soars through the air. This black bird with a bit of white on it can live to be 50 years old. It reaches sexual maturity at about six and mates for life.
This scavenger bird is the only one to show sexual dimorphism. Males have a large red comb on the crest of their heads. They have no syrinx, so they cannot vocalize. When they are feeding near a vessel, you may hear them make clucking or hissing sounds.
#5 The Endangered Bird of the South Pacific: Antipodean Albatross -11-foot Wingspan
The Antipodean albatross is a South Pacific endangered bird. While you can see it in many locations, all return to New Zealand’s Auckland Islands, Antipodes Islands, and Campbell Island to breed. This bird can weigh up to 19 pounds. It has an 11-foot wingspan.
This bird only lays eggs every two years, with each returning to the area where it was born to lay its eggs. These birds do not become independent until they are about 250 days old and do not become sexually mature until they are seven years old. Both males and females share responsibility for incubating the eggs and raising the young.
#4 Largest Flying Birds in the World: Tristan Albatross -11-foot Wingspan
The Tristan albatross lives in the South Atlantic Ocean. Its 11-foot wingspan helps it forage over a lot of territories. It breeds almost entirely on Gough Island. Females feed east of the island, where you can see all the way to South Africa, while males forage west of the island, where you can see them all the way to South America.
These critically endangered birds only breed every other year, and they mate for life. The adult birds return in November to the island. Females lay their eggs in open heath where there is plenty of room to soar when taking off. Once hatched, chicks do not leave the nesting area until November. This bird does not become sexually mature until it is 10 years old.
#3 Largest Flying Birds in the World: Dalmatian Pelican-12-foot Wingspan
The Dalmatian pelican is a native of Mongolia, but most live in Russia. You can also find this species living in freshwater lakes and wet habitats near the Mediterranean coastline. This bird that has a 12-foot wingspan is the largest member of the pelican family. It can weigh up to 33 pounds. Most of this pelican’s diet is fish.
This near-threatened species has a disheveled off-white appearance. It has one of the largest beaks of the pelican family. The beak is a dull yellow most of the year, but it turns bright orange during mating season. It flies in flocks with its neck held back like a heron.
#2 Largest Flying Birds in the World: Southern Royal Albatross- 12-foot Wingspan
The Southern royal albatross has a wingspan of 12 feet. It lives mainly in South American waters, but most return to subantarctic Campbell Island when it is time to lay their eggs. To move from South America to Campbell Islands, they circumnavigate the globe. They eat a diet of fish caught from the water’s surface or slightly below.
Southern royal albatrosses usually breed for life, but some have split up. Females lay one-to-two eggs in November, which hatch in January. The male and female take turns caring for the young until the following November.
#1 Largest Flying Birds in the World: Great White Pelican – 12-foot Wingspan
The great white pelican has a massive 12-foot wingspan. This bird lives in swamps and shallow lakes from southeastern Europe through Asia and Africa. Males can weigh up to 33 pounds, while females weigh up to 20 pounds. Breeding takes place mainly in South Africa but can also occur in Russia, Turkey, and Northern Greece.
This bird is a very social animal that feeds in groups of six to eight. The birds will form a circle around a school of fish and dip their beaks in unison. Then, when they lift their head and the pouch in their beaks forces out the water, leaving them with a delicious mouthful of fish. Their diet, however, is not restricted to marine life. They can also be foragers who often eat the chicks of other bird species.
The world is full of amazing birds with large wingspans. Learn about them and get involved in the efforts to protect their habitat. Next: Top 10 World’s Largest Dinosaurs Ever