what is the heaviest bird in north america

There are lots of ways to compare birds: wingspan, total length and weight are just three of them. But the heaviest native North American bird is the Trumpeter Swan, Cygnus buccinator, which can weigh from 22 to 30 pounds.

Long-lived but slow reproducing, Trumpeter Swans were nearly extirpated in the Lower 48, although they don’t seem to have been in serious trouble in Alaska or Canada. An introduced Eurasian species, the Mute Swan, is nearly as large. There are heavier flighted birds; many adult Andean Condors weigh a little more, and several African species are heavier. But among native North American species, the Trumpeter is the biggest bird by mass.

Trumpeter Swans generally, but not absolutely, mate for life. Typically, they don’t breed until age 5-7. They lay just one egg and jointly brood the egg and raise the cygnet. The slow reproductive rate makes them susceptible to overhunting and habitat loss.

Despite their remarkable size, they are elegant and graceful in flight. And noisy; their calls – trumpeting – carry for miles. It’s not uncommon for the birds to be flying too high to be seen without binoculars, but for the trumpeting to be easily audible. With an incubation period of some 37 days, and another 3-4 months for the cygnets to be ready for fall migration, Trumpeters are among the first birds to arrive in the spring and the last to leave in fall.

The Trumpeters are at Creamer’s Field right now, joining Canada Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese and the smaller Tundra Swans as the first arrivals. It’s worth a visit.

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The largest flying bird ever, Pelagornis sandersi, soared 25 million years ago on wings that could reach from a giraffe’s head to its hooves. Even though Pelagornis’ enormous 24-foot wingspan is unattainable for its contemporary counterparts, numerous birds in the Western Hemisphere are still remarkable in their own right, sometimes even occupying the highest position in the food chain.

While it may be widely acknowledged that large birds such as the California Condor, Greater Rhea, and Golden Eagle are large, it is less certain which bird is the largest.

This is due to the fact that body length (bill to tail), wingspan, or weight are commonly used to determine bird size. Not surprisingly, each measure produces a different winner. Furthermore, when you start to think about issues related to mobility (flightless vs. flying birds) and habitat (sea vs. land bird).

As there isn’t a single overall winner, the candidates are divided into the following five fundamental categories.

what is the heaviest bird in north america

One of the world’s largest birds, the Greater Rhea is found in the lowland savannas of central South America. Furthermore, no other bird in the Western Hemisphere can compare to it in terms of body length and weight.

These flightless giants can weigh over 50 pounds — approximately 800 times more than a house sparrow — and measure 5.5 feet in length. This height gives rheas a good view of the open areas where they live, helping them spot predators which, in many cases, are human hunters. Hunting, coupled with habitat loss, are primary factors driving Greater Rhea decline and the species is now considered Near Threatened.

Bolivian conservation partners have safeguarded over 27,000 acres for Greater Rheas and other endangered species with the help of ABC.

what is the heaviest bird in north america

Not only is the Wandering Albatross’ enormous 11-foot wingspan the widest in the Western Hemisphere, but it is unmatched globally. The Wandering Albatross, which is found in lower parts of the Southern Hemisphere, spends almost all of its life at sea and only comes ashore once every two years to breed.

During their lifetimes, these fabled travelers could travel up to 600 miles in a single day, which is the equivalent of eighteen round-trips to the moon.

And while roaming remote seas keeps Wandering Albatrosses far from most humans, it doesnt eliminate our impact. Wandering Albatrosses are considered Vulnerable and, like other albatross species, they are threatened by climate change, marine pollution, overfishing, and “bycatch,” which occurs when seabirds are caught and drowned by trawler nets and cables or on long lines of baited hooks laid out by fishing boats.

In addition to pushing Congress to ratify the international Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses, ABCs Seabirds Program is collaborating with partners to promote safe fishing methods in order to protect Wandering Albatrosses.

what is the heaviest bird in north america

The largest flying birds in North and South America, respectively, are the California and Andean condors. In terms of body length, the California Condor (4. 5 feet) slightly nudges out the Andean Condor (four feet). However, the Andean Condor triumphs in terms of weight (33 pounds) and wingspan (10 5 feet) — nearly as long as a compact car.

Despite inhabiting distant ranges — the desert Southwest vs. the Andes — these birds have much in common. Both are scavengers that consume dead bodies, typically those of medium- and large-sized mammals. Both are known for their longevity. Unfortunately, human activity poses a threat to both: habitat loss, hunting in some areas, and lead poisoning from spent ammunition.

In the 1980s, there were only 22 California condors in the wild; however, as a result of an effective captive breeding program, there are currently 290 of these birds. Today, they are considered Critically Endangered. ABC is attempting to preserve vital habitat for the Near Threatened Andean Condor in South America. We assisted Fundación Jocotoco, our partner organization, in acquiring Hacienda Antisanilla, a 7,000-acre area in Ecuador that served as a haven for most of the condors discovered there in 2014.

what is the heaviest bird in north america

As big as two bowling balls, the Harpy Eagle weighs 20 pounds, making it the largest hunting bird in the Americas. This apex predator has talons the size of Grizzly Bear claws and legs the girth of a human arm. It inhabits regions of vast lowland forests in Central and South America. Not only that, but Harpy Eagles have owl-like facial disks that enable them to detect even the smallest sounds, which helps them locate sloths, monkeys, and other prey.

These big hunters occupy vast hunting territories, sometimes exceeding 10,000 acres in size. But finding large, healthy forest tracts is becoming more difficult as tropical woodlands disappear — and the strain is showing as Harpy populations decline. They are now considered Near Threatened.

Luckily, they are not without defenders. ABC supports several bird reserves that provide habitat for Harpy Eagles, including Brazils Serra Bonita and Ecuadors Narupa Reserve.

what is the heaviest bird in north america

The largest hunting birds in North America, Golden Eagles can reach a wingspan of seven feet. Golden Eagles are not just large birds; they are also some of the world’s most skilled avian predators, with the ability to dive for prey at up to 200 miles per hour. Although they usually graze on rabbits, squirrels, and prairie dogs, golden eagles have also been observed to eat seals, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, coyotes, and bobcats, among other larger animals.

They have the largest range of any eagle, encompassing most of the Northern Hemisphere. This encompasses all types of environments in North America, from desert to arctic, though they are mostly found in the western states.

Even with the United States passing protective legislation, there are still threats from humans to these birds. One of the main threats is the ever-expanding maze of wind turbines erected in vital habitats. In just the Altamont Wind Resource Area in California, turbines have claimed the lives of over 2,000 Golden Eagles since 1998. The federal government extended the previous “take” limits in 2013, permitting wind energy companies to kill eagles for 30 years without facing legal repercussions. After contesting the rule the next year, ABC achieved a significant win for the Eagles when it was repealed in 2015.

Trumpeter Swans are slow-reproducing, long-lived birds that were almost extinct in the Lower 48, though they don’t appear to have faced significant threats from Alaska or Canada. The Mute Swan, an introduced Eurasian species, is almost as big. There are larger flying birds; several adult Andean Condors weigh slightly more, and a few species of African birds are larger. However, in terms of mass, the Trumpeter is the largest native bird in North America.

Trumpeter Swans generally, but not absolutely, mate for life. Typically, they don’t breed until age 5-7. They only lay one egg, which they jointly tend to and nurture into a cygnet. Due to their slow reproduction rate, they are vulnerable to habitat loss and overhunting.

There are many methods to compare birds; three of them are wingspan, total length, and weight. However, the Trumpeter Swan, Cygnus buccinator, is the heaviest native bird in North America, weighing between 22 and 30 pounds.

Now at Creamer’s Field, the Trumpeters are among the first birds to arrive, along with Canada geese, Greater White-fronted geese, and smaller Tundra Swans. It’s worth a visit.

Even with their enormous size, they have a graceful and elegant flight. And noisy; their calls – trumpeting – carry for miles. The birds frequently soar too high to be seen without binoculars, but their trumpeting is always audible. Trumpeters are among the first birds to arrive in the spring and the last to depart in the fall, with an incubation period of about 37 days and another 3–4 months for the cygnets to be ready for fall migration.

More From Bird Calls Blog

what is the heaviest bird in north america


What is the heaviest North American land bird?

California Condors are the largest wild birds in North America.

Which is the heaviest bird in the world?

Common name
Binomial Name
Common ostrich
Struthio camelus
Somali ostrich
Struthio molybdophanes
Southern cassowary
Casuarius casuarius
Northern cassowary
Casuarius unappendiculatus

Is there a bird bigger than an eagle?

Andean Condor The Andean Condor, an endangered species, is considered the largest bird of prey with an enormous wingspan measuring 3 meters (9.8 feet) and weighing up to 15 kgs (33.1 lbs.). They primarily live in mountainous regions where there is an abundant amount of wind to help their massive body in flight.