The fastest bird in the world: which birds break speed records?

Most astonishing is the flight speed of some birds. What is the fastest bird in the world? We answer this question below.

More than 9,000 birds have been discovered, including flightless birds, but most of them turn out to be great fliers. Migratory species can travel unimaginable distances, but this isn’t the most impressive. For obvious reasons, predators reach the fastest speeds, but the record holders also include species that don’t hunt large prey.

Early aircraft designed by the famous Wright brothers could fly at a maximum speed of 60 km/h. The builders of the first flying machines did groundbreaking work that changed air transport forever. But let’s face it – Mother Nature is the ultimate aerospace engineer. The best proof of this is that a small bird weighing less than a kilogram can reach dive speeds of up to several hundred kilometers per hour. To build a machine that could fly that fast, it took humans decades of intensive research and testing.

The birds they are amazing creations of nature. Their adaptation to life in the air and to traveling great distances arouses genuine admiration. Incredible navigation skills and tolerance for long flights is one thing, it’s amazing too the speed they reach in the air.

How many birds fly per hour? Taking into account the diversity of species, it is difficult to give a clear indication of the average flight speed. A few tens of kilometers per hour is not an achievement for airborne animals. Even a white stork (which is closer to a marathon runner than a sprinter) flies at 40 km/h. In flat flight, some rock pigeon species can reach 90 km/h. Most members of the duck family effortlessly exceed 100 km/h.

However, this is nothing compared to the speed that the fastest bird on Earth can develop. The peregrine falcon is an unrivaled record holder in this field. Literally unbeatable, this predator can dive at speeds well over 300 km/h!

Peregrine Falcon / Photo: Mike Kemp / In Photos via Getty Images Images

This unusual representative of the falcon family is a cosmopolitan species found almost all over the world (which makes the peregrine falcon is also the fastest bird in Poland). It is not only found in Antarctica, nor in the northern part of the Arctic.

Contrary to what the name suggests, these unusual birds lead a rather sedentary lifestyle. Wandering is characteristic only of young individuals. Adult falcons spend all year in the area of ​​their breeding grounds. The only exception are the populations that live in the north.

But let’s get back to what matters most, which is speed. Peregrine falcon hunts for volatile game. In order to take down other birds (often much larger than itself), the predator must dive at great speed. Huge, what’s what? So far, the highest recorded vertical flight speed of a Peregrine Falcon is 389 km/h! It is worth paying attention to the word “measured”. Some scientists believe that these birds can dive even faster, reaching speeds of over 400 mph!

How is it possible that a falcon can “fall” so quickly? This is due to the construction of this predator. Nature has given representatives of this species a huge thorax, to which extremely strong muscles are attached, responsible for the movement of the wings. Speaking of wings, these are pointed, recessed and armed with stiff springs, giving them a streamlined shape and creating plenty of lift. This set of features makes this bird a hellishly effective predator – when the peregrine falcon sees its prey, there is virtually no rescue for it.

We already know what it is the fastest bird in the world, but it should be noted that not only the peregrine falcon can fly surprisingly fast. Below we list the following rulers of the sky.

golden eagle

golden eagleGolden Eagle / photo by Albert Ceolan / The Agostini Picture Library via Getty Images

Which is faster, falcon or eagle? The last bird is large and quite heavy (golden eagle is one of the largest birds of prey), so it can’t boast of the speed of a falcon. However, this does not mean that he is an ‘obstacle in the sky’. This majestic bird dives at a speed of 320 km/h, so during a dive the peregrine falcon will feel its breath on its back. Reaches up to 102 cm in length and 2.3 m in maximum wingspan. It is found in the north and west of the United States, Canada, the mountains of Europe and north-central Asia. From time to time it can be found in the northern part of Africa.

norwegian falcon

Another representative of the falcon family on our list. norwegian falcon it is clearly larger than its relatives – it measures up to 65 cm in length and its wingspan is up to 160 cm. He has a predilection for the Northern Hemisphere. This bird breeds in North America, Europe and Asia. How fast can this predator fly? In a dive, it reaches up to 210 km / h.


swiftSwift / Photo: Mathias Schaef / McPhoto / ullstein bild via Getty Images

Birds of prey break speed records during dives, but you have to remember that when they are not hunting, they move like other species – in level flight. In this field, he is the unrivaled record holder common swift. This small bird, endowed with a pointed beak and curved wings, resembles a swallow, but clearly differs in color. Its feathers are black and brown with a navy blue glow on the back. It leads an itinerant lifestyle and moves between Europe, Asia and the northern part of Africa. It should be mentioned that he does it extremely efficiently. Swifts can fly at speeds of up to 170 km/h.

Needle-throated needle

Another representative of the Swift came in fourth place with the Swift. Needle-throated needle is a medium sized bird. Its back is brownish-white and its underbelly is white. It mainly nests in East Asia, and non-sedentary specimens fly to Australia and Papua New Guinea for the winter. Like the swift, it can reach up to 170 km/h in level flight.

forest falcon

We come back to the falcon family. Unlike their cousins, forest falcon characterized by a more “swallow” than stocky silhouette. Reaches up to 36 cm in length and its wingspan is 85 cm. Without a doubt, representatives of this species are among the most agile birds. During the hunt she shows remarkable grace, but most effective is the aerial advance of males trying to impress females. How fast can this air acrobat fly? In a nosedive, it reaches 160 km/h.


Birds belonging to the family are the following frigate birds. They are found in the Eastern Pacific and Indian Oceans. They can also be found near the west coast of Africa. They can be recognized by their black, iridescent plumage and heavily forked tail. However, the most characteristic feature of the representatives of this family is the bag under the beak, which is red in males. Although their peculiar appearance does not indicate this, frigates are remarkably skilled fliers. It is these birds that show the best wing area to body weight ratio. This allows them to fly at speeds in excess of 150 km/h.

Gambian goose

Gambian gooseGęsiec Gąsiecjski / Photo: Sergio Pitamitz / VWPics / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

On the list was a representative of the duckling family. Gambian goose occurs in Africa. This large water bird is up to 115 cm long and its wingspan can exceed 180 cm. Such dimensions translate into body weight – the only representative of the sex Plectropterus it can weigh up to 9 kg. The speed at which it moves through the air is all the more impressive – a goose can fly at speeds of up to 145 km/h.

carrier pigeon

Our list is closed mail pigeon. This rock pigeon species impresses not only with its excellent navigational ability, which allows it to return to the loft from great distances, but also with its impressive flight speed. Homing pigeons can travel at speeds of up to 140 km/h.

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