Animal kingdom's majestic rulers of the sky, every bird-lover surely appreciates the beauty of these winged wonders of Mother Nature. But how fast can they go? Who's the fastest, who's the most durable, who's the most maneuverable… who's the swiftest?
The Fastest Bird in the World
When it comes to sheer speed, the peregrine falcon reigns supreme at the mind-numbing speed of 240 miles per hour. Wow, Miss Peregrine, that's pretty fast! The peregrine falcon uses its speed to its hunting advantage. There is no creature that can outfly this lightning-fast bird of prey. Or is there? Keep reading, and hold onto your seat.
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Long Distance Champion
When it comes to long distance flights, the pigeon comes to mind as one of the most durable birds in the world, thanks to those bulky little chests of theirs. This is why messenger pigeons were a thing, as well as their amazing navigation memory that allows them to unmistakably find their way back home. They are able to traverse vast distances without ever getting tired. Some of the messenger pigeons have been known to cross large bodies of water, which meant a long, sustained flight without encountering patches of land to rest on. But when it comes to short-distance flight, the pigeon's speed tops at around 90 miles per hour. So how does the pigeon outfly the falcon?
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Target Acquired: the Peregrine Falcon Diving
While not as fast as the falcon, the pigeon has a trick up his sleeve. As the falcon dives at its top speed, the pigeon employs its wide field of vision as well as a cunning escape maneuver, to roll sideways at the last moment. Ideally for the pigeon, the falcon misses its mark as it plunges forcefully downward. By the time the falcon recovers from its dive, the pigeon will have already made its escape.
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Pigeon vs. Falcon
Although neither faster nor more maneuverable than the diving falcon, the pigeon is able to escape by a paper-thin margin, using the laws of physics to its advantage. You might think twice about who's winning the race here. Speed doesn't always prevail.
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The Most Capable Flyer?
So what about all in all maneuverability? Technically, the best flyer in this category would probably be the hummingbird. This aptly named bird hums from flower to flower, feeding from the nectar from the inside with its long beak, without pausing to land. The hummingbird flaps its wings at the rate of 50 times per second! This enables it to hover in place, seeming more like a huge bug, rather than simply the smallest bird in the world. Thanks to its diminutive size, and strong and durable flight muscles, the humming bird can move around in ways that other birds simply can't. The humming bird can even fly backwards!
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The Swiftest Bird?
This title brings us to another aptly named bird—the swift. Swifts are small birds that spend almost all of their lives up in the air. They do almost everything in flight: catching insects, breeding and even sleeping! You might see them swooshing dizzyingly around tall buildings in some cities. The swift is definitely the most likely candidate for the title of best flyer among birds. Its overall flight capabilities are amazing. They are among both the fastest and most maneuverable, and can certainly stay up in the sky for a long time.
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The Clumsiest Walking Bird?
Clumsiest is still a title, and oftentimes, with swiftness in the sky, comes clumsiness on the ground. We already know that penguins can be pretty poor walkers, but you have probably never seen a swift on the ground. This is because they practically only ever land in order to lay eggs and care for their young. Because of their tiny, underdeveloped feet, they have a very hard time on the ground. This cute little bird on the photo, looking so defenseless and vulnerable, becomes quite unreachable once it takes wing.
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Albatross, the Master of Soaring
Speaking of clumsiness on land, the albatross, with its huge wingspan, soars the skies with ease. The wandering albatross, with a wingspan of 3.5 meters, counts as the largest bird on the planet. Its huge wings serve for catching favorable wind currents, allowing it to remain airborne with little effort. Also, the grey-headed albatross you see on the picture is known as the third fastest bird on the planet.
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The Golden Eagle, the King of the Sky
One of the most majestic birds in the world, an extremely powerful raptor with great maneuverability and agility, coupled with size and brute force. The golden eagle is the second fastest bird, second only to the peregrine falcon.
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The Magnificent Frigatebird
It's not just an adjective. “Magnificent frigatebird” is the name of the species. But this majestic bird is not only about feathers for show; it's also one of the fastest birds on the planet.
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So Which One Is the Top Bird?
As always in the living world, each of these animals is best at what enables it to survive. In order to do this, the falcon has to catch up to the pigeon, the pigeon has to escape, the hummingbird has to reach difficult places and the swift has to avoid predators on land and catch insects in the sky. The true winners are their offspring.
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