These Birds Found In The USA Can’t Fly!
This Is Why!

Are you eager to find out if any non-flying bird is inhabiting the United States? Then, read this post to find out more about some of the flightless birds.

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David A. Swanson

October 04, 2022

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What’s This Post About?

Although there is a fairly large number of flightless birds on earth, they are still fewer in number as compared to birds that can fly. Relatively, you may know more about birds that can fly, but what about those that can’t?

Birds are closely associated with the concept of flight, yet not all birds fly. Instead, some birds develop alternative modes of transportation and no longer require their wings, and these flightless species interest both birders and non-birders.

Although flightless birds have wings, their wings are often smaller and less developed than those of flying birds. Birds that don’t fly have fewer wing bones, or the bones are fused, making the wings considerably less flexible than they need to be to fly.

The keel of the breastbone, which connects flight muscles to the bone, is lacking in most flightless birds.

There are no flightless birds that are native to the USA, but there are few known birds found in the nearby regions, commonly in southern American countries.


Does the USA Have Any Non-flying Birds?

Greater Rhea is a non-flying bird that is found in the north and south American regions.

The overall list of birds includes 1267 different bird species (i.e., the 1120 bird species found in the 50 states and District of Columbia, plus the 146 species found only in the U.S. territories).

Some of the species that can be found in the 50 states and the District of Columbia can also be found in the United States territories.

However, there are no flightless birds that are native to the USA. There are one or two found in south American regions such as Greater Rhea or Steamer Duck.


Nevertheless, you may like to learn more about how many interesting flightless birds there are in the world and how fascinating they are to look at, each being unique in its way.

These are big, flightless birds that rely on running to get anywhere. Emus, kiwis, and cassowaries are all flightless birds that many people are familiar with, including the dodo, a flightless bird that was persecuted to extinction. 

However, since no flightless birds inhabit the United States, continue to read on to learn more about some of the flightless birds in general.

1. Greater Rhea


The Greater Rhea is one of the world’s largest birds found in the lowland grasslands of central South America. And, no other bird in the Western Hemisphere compares to it in terms of weight and body length.

These flightless creatures can weigh up to 50 pounds and reach 5.5 feet in length, making them 800 times larger than a house sparrow. Rheas have a good perspective of the wide areas they inhabit, which helps them notice predators, which are often human hunters.

Greater Rhea decline is primarily caused by hunting and habitat degradation, and the species is now classified as near threatened.

Rheas are generally vegetarians who like broad-leaved plants, but they also eat grasshoppers, small reptiles, and rodents, as well as fruits, seeds, and roots.

For the first few days, young rheas eat insects exclusively. They congregate in flocks and graze on deer and livestock outside of the mating season.


Male Rhea’s construct nests and care for their young. The females migrate to new nests to lay their eggs.

2. Steamer Duck


Steamer ducks are flightless in three out of four species; however, four out of four species should not be meddled with. Even among the flighted species, some males are too heavy to even launch into flight.

These South American ducks gained their namesake by thrashing their wings across the water like a steamboat’s wheels. They also utilize them for thrashing in other ways.

Steamer ducks are notoriously hostile and have been known to fight one other in huge, bloody confrontations over territorial conflicts. Waterbirds several times their size have been known to be killed by them.


Don’t try to startle steamer ducks and watch them from a distance.

3. Weka


Weka is a flightless bird indigenous to New Zealand. This brown, chicken-sized bird was formerly a valuable resource for both native Kiwis and European immigrants, but its numbers are rapidly dwindling.

Despite their ordinary appearance, Weka has a booming call that both males and females sing as a duet. They’re also known for being cunning thieves who will steal food and tiny things that appeal to them and flee with them. Weka is also an excellent swimmer.

They eat mostly invertebrates and fruit as omnivores. Weka deposit their eggs between August and January, and both sexes assist in the incubation process.


Don’t try to keep Weka as a pet, they poop their body weight in a day, and that’s a lot of poops for carpet stains.

4. Penguin


All 18 species of penguins are unable to fly and are therefore better suited to swimming and diving, which they do the majority of their time. In addition, they have a unique waddling gait because of their short legs and stocky body.

Although most people identify penguins with Antarctica, the majority of species dwell at higher latitudes. A few even exist in temperate temperatures, including the Galapagos penguin, which lies right on the Equator.

Penguins are also incredibly passionate; they are largely committed and seek out the same companions each season, even though their colony may have hundreds or even thousands of birds.

The vast majority of living penguin species are in decline. Their conservation statuses range from Least Concern to Endangered, according to the IUCN Red List.


Many male penguins gift female penguins with rocks to woo them.

5. Cassowary


The cassowary is a dangerous bird to meddle with. This massive bird, which is endemic to Australia and its neighboring islands, is a heavyweight contender. The ostrich is the only bird that is heavier.

As if that weren’t enough, the cassowary has a vicious dagger-like claw on each foot’s middle toe that can grow up to 4 inches long, and they’ve been known to kill humans. If lethal force isn’t your thing, the cassowary’s flair is still admirable.

These birds have keratin casques, which are multicolored headgear (like human fingernails). Their luxurious back feathers are reminiscent of beautiful fur capes.

Cassowaries eat mostly fruit, although all species are true omnivores, eating a variety of other plant items such as shoots and grass seeds, as well as fungi, insects, and small vertebrates.

Cassowaries are naturally afraid of humans, but if provoked, they can cause significant, even deadly, injuries to both dogs and humans.


The cassowary has been termed "the world's most hazardous bird" on numerous occasions.

6. Kiwi


In New Zealand, there are five species of kiwi, which are brown chicken-sized birds. They have silky, hairlike feathers and hidden vestigial wings. Kiwis have their nostrils on the tip of their bills, rather than at the base, as do other birds.

The females lay eggs weighing up to a pound, so these strange tiny birds are worth observing. This is the largest egg of any living species when compared to the size of the bird.

Kiwis are the only birds with nostrils at the end of their lengthy beaks and have a highly developed sense of smell, which is rare in a bird. Small invertebrates, seeds, grubs, and a variety of worms are all eaten by kiwis. Fruit, tiny crayfish, eels, and amphibians are among the foods they consume.

Kiwis may use their excellent sense of smell to discover insects and worms underground without seeing or touching them since their nostrils are positioned at the end of their lengthy beaks.


The kiwi is regarded as a representation of New Zealand, and the association is so strong that the term Kiwi is used as an idiomatic term for New Zealanders around the world.

7. Ostrich


The magnificent ostrich is unquestionably the most powerful bird on the planet. Ostriches are the world’s largest living bird, growing up to 9 feet tall and weighing more than 300 pounds. Their eggs are also the world’s largest, measuring roughly 5 inches in diameter and weighing 3 pounds.

Their muscular legs can kick to defend themselves, and they can run at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour across Africa’s wide plains. They also have long, luscious eyelashes, making them look more majestic.

Ostriches are now solely found in Africa, where they live in a variety of open, arid, and semi-arid habitats such as savannas and the Sahel, both north and south of the equatorial forest zone. Because of the East African Rift’s geographic barrier, the Somali ostrich evolved separately from the common ostrich in the Horn of Africa.

In some areas, the Masai subspecies of the common ostrich coexists with the Somali ostrich; nevertheless, behavioral and ecological differences preclude interbreeding.


Ostriches can run at speeds of up to 43 miles per hour. Their kick is capable of killing a lion.

8. Kakapo


The kakapo, often known as the “owl parrot,” is native to New Zealand. This nocturnal parrot has the face of an owl, the attitude of a penguin, and the movement of a duck. It’s a bizarre bird, but it’s also quite lovely, with vibrant green-brown feathers.

It is the world’s heaviest parrot, measuring up to 2 feet in length. The males have a characteristic booming call that sounds like a one-bird jug band and maybe heard for up to half a mile.

The kakapo is threatened with extinction; there are only 201 living adults in the world, all of whom have been named and tagged, and they are limited to four small islands off the coast of New Zealand that have remained free of predators.


The kakapo is the world’s largest parrot.

9. Emu


After its relative, the ostrich, the emu, is the second-largest surviving bird in terms of size. It is the largest native bird and the only extant member of the genus Dromaius, and it is native to Australia.

After the European settlement of Australia in 1788, the Tasmanian, Kangaroo Island, and King Island subspecies of the emu became extinct.

Emus are flightless, soft-feathered birds with long necks and legs that can grow up to 1.9 meters in height. Emus can travel long distances and sprint at speeds of up to 50 kilometers per hour (31 miles per hour).

They hunt for a range of plants and insects, on the other hand, and have been known to go weeks without eating. The emu is a significant cultural emblem in Australia, with representations on the coat of arms and currency. In addition, indigenous Australian folklore portrays the bird prominently.


Emus are the second largest bird in the world.

10. Takahe


This mid-sized native bird to New Zealand excels at hide-and-seek. It was considered to be extinct from the late 1800s until 1948 when it was unexpectedly unearthed.

With vibrant blue and green plumage and a red bill, it’s a colorful character. The takahe is also a long-lived bird, with a lifespan of up to 20 years.

The Takahe Recovery Programme, run by the New Zealand Department of Conservation, supports populations on various offshore islands as well as in Takah Valley. It has now been reintroduced to Kahurangi National Park on the mainland.

The NZTCS status of takahe was downgraded from Nationally Critical to Nationally Vulnerable in 2016, even though they are still a threatened species.

The takahe is a flightless, sedentary bird that can be found in alpine grasslands. It is territorial and stays on the grassland until snowfall when it migrates to the forest or scrub. Grass, shoots, and insects are among its favorite foods.

The takahe is frequently seen pulling a snow grass stalk with one claw and eating only the soft bottom sections, which appear to be its favorite diet while discarding the rest.


Takah that are threatened will freeze and blend in with their environment, so be careful while observing them in their habitat.

Keep Reading!

Even though the mentioned birds cannot fly, they are still majestic in this existence and add to the beauty of their species. Although there are no flightless birds that inhabit the United States, quite a few can be found across the globe.

If you’re curious to read more, don’t miss this post to learn whether ostriches are dangerous or not.

Are Ostriches Aggressive? How Dangerous Are They Really?

With their beady eyes, sharp talons, and slender legs, ostriches can be pretty dangerous. Read to learn more about how aggressive they are!

David A. Swanson Picture

By David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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David A. Swanson Picture

David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!



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