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What Are the Fastest Flying Birds in the World? (Top 15)

Written by Clinton Atkins / Fact Checked by George Dukes

what are the fastest flying birds in the world

For centuries, people have loved watching birds fly at a fast speed. But do you know what are the fastest flying birds in the world? We’ve compiled a list of the 15 fastest avians. These birds are born with the gift of flight, and they use their speed efficiently.

The beauty of flying birds is a picturesque scene that all bird enthusiasts love to see. But more importantly, the speed of flying contributes to the survival of the avian species. Birds use their flying speed to hunt for prey, avoid predators, migrate, and even for courtship.

List of 15 Fastest Flying Birds in the World

What are the fastest flying birds? Learning this is vital to many bird lovers. Let’s take a look at the top 15 birds with the quickest flying.

Bird #1: Peregrine Falcon 

fastest-bird-that-flie

Scientific Classification:

  • Kingdom – Animalia
  • Species – F. peregrinus
  • Genus – Falco
  • Phylum – Chordata
  • Family – Falconidae
  • Class – Aves
  • Order – Falconiformes
  • Binomial Name – Falco peregrinus
Average Horizontal Speed 65-90 km/h
Maximum Horizontal Speed 110 km/h
Maximum Airspeed 389 km/h

The peregrine falcon is known mostly as peregrine only, and it is the fastest bird in the world. This bird takes the highest rank when it comes to high-speed dive and level flight. The falcon achieves the fast flying by lessening the drag of the wind through folding their aerodynamic wings.

Bird #2: Saker Falcon

fastest-birds-that-flies

Scientific Classification:

  • Kingdom – Animalia
  • Species – F. cherrug
  • Genus – Falco
  • Phylum – Chordata
  • Family – Falconidae
  • Class – Aves
  • Order – Falconiformes
  • Binomial Name – Falco cherrug
Maximum Horizontal Speed 150 km/h
Maximum Airspeed 320 km/h

One of the fastest birds in the world is the saker falcon. This avian preys on smaller birds and rodents, and they use their fast dive speed in open grasslands to feed. The saker falcon is super efficient in paralyzing their prey. And this bird is important enough to be recognized as Mongolia’s national bird.

Bird #3: Golden Eagle

fastest-birds-that-flie

Scientific Classification:

  • Kingdom – Animalia
  • Species – A. chrysaetos
  • Genus – Aquila
  • Phylum – Chordata
  • Family – Accipitridae
  • Class – Aves
  • Order – Accipitriformes
  • Binomial Name – Aquila chrysaetos
Average Horizontal Speed 45-51 km/h
Maximum Horizontal Speed 129 km/h
Maximum Airspeed 322 km/h

The golden eagle is blessed with size and flying power. In fact, this bird is fond of catching large prey such as a goat or sheep. Notably, the golden eagle uses their flying speed to perform traditional courtship rituals.

Bird #4: Grey-headed Albatross

top-10-fastest-birds

Scientific Classification:

  • Kingdom – Animalia
  • Species – T. chrysostoma
  • Genus – Thalassarche
  • Phylum – Chordata
  • Family – Diomedeidae
  • Class – Aves
  • Order – Procellariiformes
  • Binomial Name – Thalassarche chrysostoma
Maximum Horizontal Speed 127 km/h

The grey-headed albatross is crowned as the fastest horizontal flier by the Guinness Book of World Records. It hunts for prey at sea, and you can only see this type of bird on land during its breeding season. Unfortunately, the population of this species is declining.

Bird #5: Gyrfalcon

fastest-flying-eagle

Scientific Classification:

  • Kingdom – Animalia
  • Species – F. rusticolus
  • Genus – Falco
  • Subgenus – Hierofalco
  • Phylum – Chordata
  • Family – Falconidae
  • Class – Aves
  • Order – Falconiformes
  • Binomial Name – Falco rusticolus
Average Horizontal Speed 80-110 km/h
Maximum Horizontal Speed 145 km/h
Maximum Airspeed 187-209 km/h

As the biggest falcon bird on earth, it’s amazing that the gyrfalcon is also one of the fastest in terms of level flight. This bird often finds a mate in the Arctic coasts and nests on cliffs. It was considered a royal bird in medieval times.

Bird #6: White-throated Needletail

fastest-flying-eagles

Scientific Classification:

  • Kingdom – Animalia
  • Species – H. caudacutus
  • Genus – Hirundapus
  • Phylum – Chordata
  • Family – Apodidae
  • Class – Aves
  • Order – Apodiformes
  • Binomial Name – Hirundapus caudacutus
Maximum Horizontal Speed 169 km/h
Maximum Airspeed Same as above

When researching which bird flies the fastest, it’s easy to come across the Needletail. It is also called the Stormbird, with feathers that are as sharp as needles. This bird’s diet is mostly small insects that they prey upon while using their fast flying speed.

Bird #7: Common Swift

fastest-bird-that-flies

Scientific Classification:

  • Kingdom – Animalia
  • Species – A. apus
  • Genus – Apus
  • Phylum – Chordata
  • Family – Apodidae
  • Class – Aves
  • Order – Apodiformes
  • Binomial Name – Apus apus
Maximum Horizontal Speed 111.6 km/h
Maximum Airspeed 166 km/h

The common swift is known to exhibit what is known as screaming parties. This bird species has the ability to alter their flying speed and wing profile when necessary. And it’s good to know that they are so noisy as they fly, so you can easily spot them.

Bird #8: Eurasian Hobby

slowest-flying-bird

Scientific Classification:

  • Kingdom – Animalia
  • Species – F. subbuteo
  • Genus – Falco
  • Phylum – Chordata
  • Family – Falconidae
  • Class – Aves
  • Order – Falconiformes
  • Binomial Name – Falco subbuteo
Maximum Airspeed 159 km/h

The Eurasian Hobby preys on swifts, and they are known for their exceptional flying maneuverability. In fact, during the courtship season, the male eurasian hobby is capable of transferring their captured food to their potential mate mid-flight.

Bird #9: Frigatebird

slowest-flying-birds

Scientific Classification:

  • Kingdom – Animalia
  • Species – Fregata magnificens, Fregata aquila, Fregata andrewsi, Fregata minor, Fregata ariel
  • Genus – Fregata
  • Phylum – Chordata
  • Family – Fregatidae
  • Class – Aves
  • Order – Suliformes
Maximum Airspeed 153 km/h

The frigatebirds are some of the fastest bird in level flight. They are known to stay in the air for weeks without landing, and can even sleep while flying.

Frigatebirds can take food from other birds and follow fishing boats to acquire prey.

Bird #10: Spur-winged Goose

bird-can-fly-200-mph

Scientific Classification:

  • Kingdom – Animalia
  • Species – P. gambensis
  • Subspecies – P.g. gambensis, P.g. niger
  • Genus – Plectropterus
  • Phylum – Chordata
  • Family – Anatidae
  • Class – Aves
  • Order – Anseriformes
  • Binomial Name – Plectropterus gambensis
Maximum Airspeed 143 km/h

As the biggest goose in all the land and sea, the spur-winged goose is found in grasslands and inland rivers. This avian loves to eat plants and seeds, and insects to a lesser extent. The spur-winged goose has a long neck, white face, and white patches on its huge wings.

Bird #11: Red-breasted Merganser

birds-can-fly-200-mph

Scientific Classification:

  • Kingdom – Animalia
  • Species – M. serrator
  • Genus – Mergus
  • Phylum – Chordata
  • Family – Anatidae
  • Class – Aves
  • Order – Anseriformes
  • Binomial Name – Mergus serrator
Maximum Airspeed 130 km/h

The red-breasted merganser is distinguishable with its hairy and thorn-like head. But unlike other birds, this species requires a boost before they can take off.

Also known as a diving duck, the Merganser can swim and breed in lakes and rivers.

Bird #12: Canvasback

most-harmless-bird

Scientific Classification:

  • Kingdom – Animalia
  • Species – A. valisineria
  • Genus – Aythya
  • Phylum – Chordata
  • Family – Anatidae
  • Class – Aves
  • Order – Anseriformes
  • Binomial Name – Aythya valisineria
Maximum Airspeed 129 km/h

The canvasback is no doubt one of the fastest bird on earth. The wingspan of this bird reaches 35”. This migratory bird species looks magnificent as they fly in a “V” shape in the sky.

Bird #13: Common Elder

fastest-flying-duck

Scientific Classification:

  • Kingdom – Animalia
  • Species – S. mollissima
  • Genus – Somateria
  • Phylum – Chordata
  • Family – Anatidae
  • Class – Aves
  • Order – Anseriformes
  • Binomial Name – Somateria mollissima
Maximum Airspeed 123 km/h

The common elder are huge sea ducks that are commonly found in North America, Europe, and Eastern Siberia. When winter comes, this bird species migrate towards the south, and they typically go in a large flock.

Bird #14: Eurasian Teal

fastest-flying-ducks

Scientific Classification:

  • Kingdom – Animalia
  • Species – A. crecca
  • Genus – Anas
  • Phylum – Chordata
  • Family – Anatidae
  • Class – Aves
  • Order – Anseriformes
  • Binomial Name – Anas crecca
Maximum Airspeed 97 km/h

The eurasian teal is a small duck with a 21 to 23 inch wingspan. This bird species usually fly in groups in order to put fear on their predators. And they collectively soar in the sky especially during the migration season.

Bird #15: Anna’s Hummingbird

fast-is-an-ostrich

Scientific Classification:

  • Kingdom – Animalia
  • Species – C. anna
  • Genus – Calypte
  • Phylum – Chordata
  • Family – Trochilidae
  • Class – Aves
  • Order – Apodiformes
  • Binomial Name – Calypte anna
Maximum Horizontal Speed 56 km/h
Maximum Airspeed 70 km/h

The medium-sized Anna’s hummingbird lives in North America. This avian can fly high and fast, with its green flank, light grey stomach and chest, and bronze-green colored back.

Conclusion

The flying speed of birds is crucial to their survival. And now that you know ‘what are the fastest flying birds in the world?’, you can easily identify them while they’re in flight. We hope you enjoy this post and share it to your friends. Also, feel free to let us know what you think.

5/5 - (3 votes)
Clinton-Atkins


Clinton Atkins

Author

Hi, I'm Clinton. Rocky and I became friends after a birdwatching trip with our new group. And we have been enjoying every adventure together. When he told me the idea of establishing a site that shares our experiences and fun, I immediately agreed. After trials and errors, here we have Thayerbirding.

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