6 Birds that can’t fly

Birds fly to migrate, search for food, or to escape predators but some species have found other ways to overcome these needs rendering the need to fly useless



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The big bird with a dangerous reputation able to take down dogs and humans with one kick

Being unable to take to the sky to avoid predators, the cassowary has learned to stand up for itself in other ways and the shy bird chooses fight over flight in response to a threat. The Guinness Book of Records has named the cassowary as the world’s most dangerous bird, thanks to their strong kick and sharp claws.


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The New Zealand icon is a shy and nocturnal bird constantly evading predators

The kiwi bird belongs to the genus Apteryx, Latin for ‘wingless’. Although it’s true they can’t fly and have been sentenced to a life on the ground, they do have tiny vestigial wings buried beneath their bristly feathers leftover from a previous life.

Emperor penguin

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The ability to swim has become much more important than flying ever could be

Penguins could fly many moons ago. But over the years, a life spent on the ice and swimming for survival has led to wings more closely resembling flippers. Their bones have also changed, rather than having hollow bones like other birds, they have become heavier to help them dive below the water’s surface.


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Ostriches have some of the strongest legs in the animal kingdom

Ostriches lack the keel, which is a part of the breastbone connecting the pectoral muscles to the wings and the structure enabling other birds to flap and take flight. Although, even if ostriches did have a keel, their tiny wings probably wouldn’t be able to carry their large weight. They are certainly at no disadvantage; to compensate for the lack of lift, the largest bird in the world can run at speeds of up to 70 kilometres per hour (43 miles per hour).


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One of the most powerful birds uses its wings as rudders

Native to South America, their name comes from the Greek word for ‘ground’. It may seem silly for a flightless bird to be in possession of wings but the rhea uses them for stability when running as high speed. It is an impressive sight, as they run in a zigzag while lifting alternate wings to act as sails and confuse potential attackers.

Flightless cormorant

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This bird is perfectly adapted to diving and gliding through ocean waters

The flightless cormorant is the only one of 40 cormorant species to have lost the ability to fly. Also known as the Galapagos cormorant, island life has been good to these birds. A lack of natural predators, all round good weather, and a plentiful food supply means they have no real need for flight at all.



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