The only poisonous birds known are the three species of Pitohui from Papua new Guinea – the Hooded Pitohui Pitohui dichrous the Rusty Pitohui P. ferrugineus and the Variable Pitohui P. kirhocephalus. The Hooded Pitohui is the deadliest. The skin and feathers contain almost the same homobatrachotoxin as the Poison Arrow Frogs.
The fastest swimmer is probably the Gentoo Penguin Pygoscelis papua at 27 km per hour.
The Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata which measures 35 cm and nests on islands in the North Pacific excavates a burrow of 2 – 3 m in length. Burrows up to 6 m are not uncommon and 8 m burrows have also been found.
The largest nest was built by a pair of Bald Eagles Haliaeetus leucocephalus was 2.9 m wide and 6 m deep.
The largest bird egg is from the Ostrich Sturthio camelus. The egg measures 15 – 20 cm long, 10 – 15 cm in diameter and weighs 1 – 1.78 kg.
Relative to body size the Long Rufous Humingbird Selasphorus rufus makes the longest migration. It measures 10 cm and flies from as far north as Alaska to Mexico and back again – 10 000 km.
Hummingbirds, Family Trochilidae have been recorded in experiments, hovering for 50 minutes.
The Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus is the fastest bird and fastest of any kind of animal. It can reach speeds of at least 200 km when diving for prey in the air.
The most feathers ever counted on one bird was 25 216 on the Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus. 80 per cent of feathers were on the bird’s head.
The Phoenix Fowl has the longest feathers. The upper tail can grow for six years and one measured 10.6 m. The Phoenix Fowl has been bred as an ornamental bird in Japan since the mid 17th century and is a breed of the Red Jungle Fowl Gallus gallus.
A number of swifts have the shortest legs. Their family name Apodidae means ‘lacking legs’.
The bird with the longest bill to body size is the Sword-billed Hummingbird Ensifera ensifera that lives in the high Andes from Venezuela to Bolivia. Its bill is 10.2 cm long, four times longer than the bird’s body, not counting the tail.
The bird with the largest wingspan is the Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans which lives in the southern oceans. Its wings average 2.54 – 3.51 m. The largest recorded wingspan was of a very old male whose wings measured 3.63 m.
The largest bird in the world today is the Ostrich Struthio camelus. The North African Ostrich subspecies is the tallest of all the Ostriches. Males can be 2.74 m tall. The head and neck can be 1.4 m long. The average height is around 2 m.
The fastest runner is the Ostrich Struthio camelus. It can run up to 72 km per hour over short distances.
Emperor Penguins Aptenodytes forester make the deepest dive of any bird ranging from 444 – 483 m. They also stay under water the longest. The maximum dive time recorded has been 18 minutes.
The Mallee Fowl Leipoa ocellata of Australia builds a mound for a nest. These mounds have been measured at 4.57 m high and 10.6 m long. A mound this size means the bird moved 250 cubic metres of vegetation and 300 tonnes of soil.
The smallest known egg is the egg of the Vervain Hummingbird Mellisuga minima of Jamacia and nearby islets. The egg is barely the size of a pea and measures less than 10 mm in length and weighs 0.356 g.
The highest recorded altitude for any bird was 11 277 m for a Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture Gyps Rueppellii. It flew into a plane.
The Artic Tern Sterna paradisaea is believed to migrate the furthest. It flies from the shores of the Arctic to the Antarctic. One banded Arctic Tern cover 22 530 km flying from the White Sea Coast of Russia to Fremantle, Western Australia.
Hummingbirds have the fastest wing beat. The Horned Sungem Heliactin cornuta, in tropical South America beats its wings at 90 beats per second.