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)
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 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
Highest visual acuity: Diurnal raptors with over 1 million cones per sq.mm 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)