Bird Records

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    Extreme Facts About Birds

    Largest recorded nesting bird colony: 136 million passenger pigeons nesting in an area in Wisconsin covering 1,942 sq km (750 sq mi).

    Most abundant wild bird: Red-billed quelea at up to 100 billion.

    Most northerly nesting bird: Ivory gull at the edge of pack ice about 400 mi south of the North Pole.

    Bird with the safest nesting ground: Providence petrel on Lord Howe Island off Australia (no predators).

    Bird with the most dangerous nesting ground: Japanese white-naped crane in the DMV between North and South Korea.

    Largest ground nest: Dusky scrubfowl nest at 36 ft wide and 16 ft high with over 300 tons of forest floor litter.

    Largest tree nest: Bald eagle in Florida at 20 ft deep, 9.5 ft wide and weighing almost 3 tons.

    Smallest nest: Cuban bee and vervain hummingbirds at 0.78 inches in breadth and 0.78-1.2 inches deep

    Largest egg laid by bird existing today: Ostrich; 7 by 4.5 inches.

    Heaviest recorded egg laid by any bird ever: Extinct elephant bird; 18 lb.

    Largest egg laid relative to body weight: Little spotted kiwi and storm petrel at 25%.

    Smallest egg lid relative to body weight: Ostrich egg at 1-1.5%

    Smallest egg: West Indian vervain hummingbird at 10 mm (0.39 in) in length and ).375 g (0.0132 oz)

    Longest uninterrupted incubation period: Emperor penguin at 64-67 days

    Shortest incubation period: 11 days by small passerines

    Longest one-way migration (assuming a coastal route): Common tern at 26,000 km (16,210 mi) in January 1997

    Longest two-way annual migration: Arctic tern nesting in the Arctic and wintering in the Antarctic up to 17,700 km (11,000 mi) each way

    Longest distance flown non-stop relative to a small body size: 800 km (500 mi) by ruby-throated hummingbird migrating across the Caribbean Gulf

    Birds with the least connection to land: Ancient murrelet

    Most aquatic bird: Penguins with 75% of their lives spent in the sea

    Fastest running bird: Ostrich at 60 mph

    Fastest running flying bird: Greater roadrunner at 26 mph

    Furthest distance walked by a migrating bird: Emu in Australia (320 mi)

    Fastest underwater swimming bird: Gentoo penguin at 22.3 mph

    One pigeon was recorder flying for several hours at 110 mph, an Olympian feat by any measure.

    Deepest dive for a non-flying bird: Emperor penguin at 1,772 ft

    Greatest weight-carrying capacity feat: Pallas’s fish eagle (8 lb) lifting a carp (13 lb), i.e. 160% of its body weight.

    Heaviest and tallest bird: Ostrich at maximum 345 lb and 9 ft

    Heaviest flying bird: Great bustard at maximum 46.3 lb

    Tallest flying bird: Sarus crane at 6 ft

    Greatest wingspan: Wandering albatross at up to 11 ft 11 in

    Greatest wingspan of landbirds: Andean condor and marabou stork tied at 10.5 ft

    Smallest bird: Bee hummingbird at 2.24 in and 0.056 oz

    Longest legs: Ostrich

    Longest legs relative to body length: Black-winged stilt at 9 in or 60% of its height

    Absolute shortest legs: Virtually non-existent in swifts

    Longest bill relative to body length: Sword-tailed pine cones

    Longest feathers: Onagadori, a domestic strain of red jungle fowl, at 34.75 ft

    Longest tail feathers: Crested argus pheasant at 5.7 ft

    Widest tail feathers: Crested argus pheasant at 5.1 in

    Shortest tails: Virtually non-existent in kiwis, emus, rheas, cassowaries

    Greatest number of feathers: Whistling swan at 25,216

    Lowest number of feathers: Ruby-throated hummingbird at 940

    Fastest moving bird: Diving peregrine falcon reliably measured at 200 mph

    Fastest flapping flight: White-throated needle-tailed swift at 106 mph

    Fastest level flight: Red-breasted merganser at 100 mph

    Fastest moving racing pigeon: 110 mph

    Slowest flying bird: American woodcock at 5 mph

    Fastest wingbeat: Hummingbirds; e.g. amethyst woodstar and horned sungem at 90/sec

    Keenest sense of smell: Kiwi, turkey vulture, petrel

    Keenest sense of hearing: Barn owl (the best tested), screech owl, boreal owl, great gray owl

    Highest visual acuity: Diurnal raptors with over 1 million cones per in the retinal fovea

    Best light-gathering capacity at night: Owls

    Highest daily frequency of pecking: 12,000 times by black woodpecker

    Most intelligent bird: African gray parrot, crow family, “bait-fishing” green and striated herons

    Most talkative bird: African gray parrot with a vocabulary of 800 words

    Greatest bird mimic: Marsh warbler with up to 84 songs

    Most songs sung per unit time: 22,197 in 10 hours by a red-eyed vireo

    Bird with the farthest carrying sound: Boom of the kakapo of New Zealand heard 4 miles away

    Birds capable of echolocation: Cave swiftlets and oilbirds

    Greatest hibernator: Poorwill with body temperature lowered to 64-68 degrees F

    Fastest heartbeat: Hummingbird at 16 beats per second

    Coldest temperature regularly endured by a bird: Average temperatures of -50 degrees F (-45.6 degrees C ) for emperor penguins

    Coldest temperature endured by a bird: -80.5 degrees F (-62.5 degrees C) by snowy owls

    Coldest temperature on land where a bird has been recorded: -129 degrees F (- 89.6 degrees C)

    Warmest temperature regularly endured by a bird: Larks and wheatears at (111-113 degrees F (44-45 degrees C)


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