Birds that Can’t Fly

Birds that cannot fly.

Do you know that all birds have wings and feathers but still some of them can’t fly? You guessed it right – we are talking about flightless birds! As the name suggests flightless birds are those that do not have the ability to fly. The best known flightless birds are the ostrich, emu, cassowary, rhea, kiwi, and penguin.



Now, you know the meaning of the phrase – but here is a surprising fact you probably do not know. The ancestors of these flightless birds could fly when they existed! How is that possible?

What happened was that a lot of birds used flying as a way to escape from their enemies. The birds that did not have a lot of enemies around them slowly forgot that they could fly (they got lazy!). For example – the penguin – who had to deal with lot less number of enemies (or predators as they are called), while they lived in Antarctica.

Now, there are two major differences in the physical appearance of birds that can and that cannot fly –

  • Flightless birds have smaller wing bones.
  • They have no keel (an extra bone that is used as anchor for wing movement) on their breastbone.

Flightless birds also have more feathers than flying birds.

Did you know that New Zealand has the most number of flightless birds! Why? Since the humans arrived only a thousand years ago in New Zealand, which meant less number of predators on land, and thus a number of flightless birds are found here – for example kiwi, weka, takahe and penguin.


One of the oddest birds is the giant, flightless parrot, the Kakapo. It’s nocturnal, has a face like an owl. With only 86 of them left now, it’s more like they are trying to save themselves from extinction!



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