Record Breaking Birds

Did you know that the Guinness Book of World Records came about because Sir Hugh Beaver, the then managing director or the Guinness Breweries, missed a shot at a golden plover during a shooting party on the 10th November 1951?

After the day’s shooting in the North Slob, by the River Slaney in County Wexford, Ireland, a debate ensued about which was the fastest European game bird – the golden plover or the red grouse being the two species up for contention – with Sir Hugh finding that the available reference books at the time could not confirm which was the correct answer*.

He realized that other similar questions must be being hotly debated throughout the world but there was no single book which could provide the answers. Upon recommendation from a Guinness employee he commissioned two twin brothers, Norris and Ross McWhirter, from a fact checking agency in London to write the book that became the Guinness Book of World Records.

The first Guinness Book of World Records was bound on 27 August 1955 and became a best seller within months. The book itself holds a world record, as the best-selling copyrighted book of all time.

Bald Eagle Nest


Largest bird’s nest

The largest bird’s nest was built by a pair of bald eagles near St Petersburg, Florida found in 1963. It measured 2.9 m wide and 6 m deep and weighed almost 2 tonnes.

Elephant Bird Egg


Largest bird (ever)

The largest bird that ever lived was the elephant bird which became extinct about 1,000 years ago. It was a flightless bird inhabiting the island of Madagascar and weighed about 500 kg and had a height of about 3 m.

Elephant birds’ eggs were larger than those of dinosaurs and are the in fact the largest single cell to exist on earth. They had a liquid capacity of over 10 litres which is equivalent to 7 ostrich eggs.

In 2013 a fossilized elephant bird’s egg sold for £66,000 to an anonymous buyer.


Most Canned Drinks Opened By A Parrot In 1 Minute

The most canned drinks opened by a parrot in one minute is 35. It was achieved by Zac, a macaw in San Jose, California, USA, on 12 January 2012.

Zac also holds the Guinness World Record for the most basket balls slam-dunked by a parrot in a minute and he can also cycle, scooter, skateboard and raise a flag.


Largest Egg Laid By A Bird (living)

The largest egg was laid by an ostrich on a farm owned by Kerstin and Gunnar Sahlin (Sweden) in Borlänge, Sweden, on 17 May 2008. It weighed a whopping 2.589 kg.

An average ostrich egg weighs about 1.4 kg and although they weigh the largest eggs of all living birds, they are actually the smallest egg in relation to the size of the adult bird.

Bee Hummingbird


Smallest Bird

The smallest bird is the bee hummingbird weighing just 1.6 g. Male hummingbirds measure 57 mm in total length with their bills taking up half of this. Females are slightly larger.

Bee hummingbirds are endemic to the Cuban archipelago, including the main island of Cuba and the Isle of Youth in the West Indies.


Shortest Bird Migration

The dusky grouse is a North American bird that migrates just 300 m. During the winter it lives in mountainous pine forests of western North America. It then descends to deciduous woodlands for the breeding season where it feeds on the early crop of seeds and fresh leaves.

Marsh Warbler


Most Birds Mimicked By Another Bird

Marsh warblers are capable of imitating the calls and songs of up to 80 other species of birds. Most of these are African birds found in the marsh warblers winter home. It seems to only learn the songs of birds heard during the summer it hatches and they use their songs to attract mates and mark out territories.

It is mostly male marsh warblers who exhibit this trait and although they normally imitate other passerines the songs of waders, hornbills and pigeons have also been recorded. Females usually have a single non-imitative song but very occasionally will also incorporate other birds’ songs into their vocalizations.

Wandering Albatross


Widest Wingspan

The wandering albatross has the largest wingspan of any bird in the world reaching lengths of 3.65 m. It is also one of the most far ranging birds with some individuals circumnavigating the Southern Ocean three times in year, covering a distance of 120,000 km.

Wandering albatrosses are able to remain in the air without flapping their wings for several hours at a time, travelling 22 m for every metre of drop.

Sailors used to capture wandering albatrosses for the long bones in their wings which they would fashion into tobacco pipes. In the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the fate of a sailor who killed an albatross is immortalized, and there are a number of sailors’ superstitions surrounding albatrosses that live on today.

*The golden plover is the faster of the two birds.

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