Flightless birds are quite the confusing phenomenon. While these animals are generally large and have wings, their body mass prevents them from flying. It is thought that flightless birds evolved from birds that once could fly. Flightless birds generally rely on running across the ground at high speeds or swimming to move around. Flightless birds still use their wings as tools for balance or steering, but not for flight.
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Emperor penguins are the largest of all penguins and live in Antarctica. They reach around 45 inches tall, weigh between 29.5 and 40.8kg. and spend long winters on open ice. Instead of flying, these birds rely heavily on swimming; in fact, most penguins will spend most of their lives very near the ocean. They will swim the open oceans looking for food such as fish, squid and krill. Emperor penguins can dive deeper than any other bird in existence and can submerge themselves for over 20 minutes.
The ostrich is the largest bird in the world. Some measure as tall as 9 feet and weigh as much as 145kg. They live in the African savannah and desert in the wild, but are domesticated in many parts of the world. Instead of flying, these birds get around by running. Ostrich are extremely fast, sprinting up to 43 miles an hour and covering over 30 miles in an hour. While they do not use their wings for flying, they use them as rudders to help them change directions. Ostrich also use these wings for balance, courtship displays and to show dominance or submission.
The cassowary is another type of large flightless bird. It is the second heaviest bird in the world after the ostrich. Most species of cassowary live in Australia, though other subspecies live in New Guinea or other nearby islands. They are tall, jet-black birds with pale blue heads and dark brown necks. These birds can measure up to 5 feet tall. Cassowaries are quite effective swimmers and runners. Each foot has three forward-pointing toes with claws that propel them forward quickly when running.
The Kakapo is the world's rarest parrot. It is flightless, nocturnal and can weigh up to 3.63kg. This parrot species lives in New Zealand, which was once only inhabited by birds and reptiles. Because of the absences of larger mammal predators, kakapo did not have to learn to fly for protection. Unfortunately, as people and mammals started to move in, these parrots found themselves virtually defenceless and have decreased to less than 100 in number. The kakapo is an accomplished climber. They can use their beaks and claws to pull themselves up to high tree perches. The kakapo only uses its wings for balance.
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