Why are there so few flightless birds

Flightless birds

Most birds can fly. But there are also approximately 40 flightless bird speciesthat evolved from birds capable of flying. Birds can flee from predators by flying. Flightless birds are therefore only found in special habitats or have developed other ways of fleeing from predators.

Large ratites on the mainland

Flightless birds on the mainland protect themselves from predators by their size. An example is the largest bird, the african ostrich. He can reach top speeds of while running. His feet are adapted for running. To protect against predators such as leopards and lions, ostriches live together in groups. In addition, an ostrich can defend itself against attackers with the help of its feet and claws.

Flightless birds on islands

Especially on small islands, large ones are missing Predators, as islands often do not offer enough habitat for them. It is therefore assumed that flightless birds have colonized islands and that flightless birds have evolved from them, as life on the ground was also possible due to the lack of enemies. Examples of flightless birds on islands are Kiwi fruit (Ratite in New Zealand), Kakapos (Parrot in New Zealand) and Cassowaries (large ratites in New Guinea).

There used to be other flightless birds on islands, Moas (in New Zealand), Elephant birds (in Madagascar) and Dodos (in Mauritius). The colonization of the islands by humans (and the importation of rats and domestic animals such as dogs and cats) resulted in the extinction of the birds. Their habitat was destroyed, they were hunted and eaten by humans. Introduced animals killed the birds or destroyed their nests. It is reported from the dodo that this bird species showed no escape and defense behavior in Mauritius due to the lack of predators. As a result, dodos became extinct less than a hundred years after their discovery.

Adaptation to the water

Penguins live in the southern hemisphere, are adapted to the water and sometimes extremely cold conditions. Their bodies are streamlined, using their wings like fins. To protect them from the cold, penguins have thick layers of fat (about three centimeters) and all skin regions of the penguins are covered with feathers.

Change through breeding - flightless livestock

Some birds kept as pets and farm animals are unable to fly. Domestic geese one has bred among other things for the production of meat, whereby they too heavy are to be able to fly.

Other breeds of birds have one plumagethat is not suitable for flying. That is with Silk hen (a breed of domestic chicken) the case. The feathers of the silkies lack the hook rays, so that they do not form a continuous surface.