Fastest Birds

Deciding on the fastest bird in the world is more complex than it sounds. There are multiple parameters, like whether the bird is flying in a straight line, diving for its prey, or running on land. Usually, the fastest bird ranking is based on the maximum airspeed attained by a bird, typically when a bird of prey dives to snatch up its prey. 

Fastest Birds

Top 10 Fastest Birds Based on Airspeed

Here is a list of the 10 fastest birds that can achieve the highest airspeed:

  1. Peregrine falcon (242 mph)
  2. Saker falcon (200 mph)
  3. Golden eagle (200 mph)
  4. Gyrfalcon (116–130 mph)
  5. White-throated needletail (105 mph)
  6. Common swift (103 mph)
  7. Eurasian hobby (99 mph)
  8. Magnificent frigatebird (95 mph)
  9. Spur-winged goose (89 mph)
  10. Red-breasted merganser (81 mph)

Fastest Birds in the World in Horizontal Flight

Fastest-flying birds are birds that can achieve the highest speeds when flying horizontally. But it is never easy to measure the speed of an animal when it’s in the air.

For quite some time, experts believed the white-throated needletail to be the fastest flier, able to fly at 105 mph. However, this has never been verified. So, the common swift held the crown of the fastest-flying bird with its flight speed of 69 mph since 2009, when a group of scientists from Lund University, Sweden, measured its speed on camera.

In 2016, the common swift lost this crown to the Brazilian free-tailed bat, which is now considered the fastest animal in the air. Though its highest speeds are yet to be measured, it can fly over 100 miles in an hour.

So, the list of fastest-flying animals is now topped by a mammal – which means, technically, the common swift is still the fastest-flying bird.

Fastest Birds on Land

Fastest-running Birds on Land

The fastest birds on land include the flightless birds that can run at incredible speeds. In this category, the ostrich takes the crown. Here are the top 3 fastest running birds: 

  1. Ostrich (43 mph)
  2. Emu (30 mph)
  3. Greater roadrunner (26 mph)

Other birds, like the secretary bird, greater rhea, and the secretary bird, can run pretty fast – at speeds over 20 mph.

Fastest Swimming Birds

Another category to measure speeds would be the fastest-swimming birds, with the gentoo penguin from the Antarctic Peninsula taking the first place at a maximum swimming speed of 22 mph.

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