The Extinct Giant Moa
The tallest bird ever was the New Zealand Giant Moa. Some scientists believe they looked like a very large Ostrich, others say they probably didn’t walk with their neck held so high. If they did walk like an Ostrich, the females would have been about three metres (10 feet) tall (though the males were shorter). Unfortunately, nobody knows for sure – the last Giant Moa died about 500 years ago.
Moas of New Zealand
The Moas were a whole group of birds, which lived in New Zealand. The Giant Moa was the largest Moa, the smallest was about the size of a turkey. The Giant Moas lived in forests. They were so big that before people arrived, they had only one enemy – a giant-sized eagle called Haast’s Eagle. Unfortunately, such a large bird would have been a very good catch for a hunter with a hungry family. Also, the early New Zealands started clearing the forest to make farms, so the Giant Moa had less and less space to live.
Giant Moa Information
The Moas belonged to a group of birds called Ratites, which include Emus, Ostriches, and the Kiwi. Their chest bone is flat, like a raft (the word Ratite comes from the Latin word for raft). This means the wing muscles of a ratite would not be strong enough to help it fly, even if the wings were large and the bird very small. In actual fact, the Giant Moa seems to have had no wings at all!
So the Giant Moa, because it was the world’s tallest ever bird, was also the tallest ever Ratite, and the tallest ever Moa! The heaviest ever bird (the Elephant Bird) and the tallest and heaviest bird alive today (the Ostrich) are all Ratites too – truly an amazing group of birds!
Giant Moa Pictures
Unfortunately, because they are extinct, nobody knows exactly what a Giant Moa looked like. You can see their bones in some museums, and an artists have made guesses and drawn pictures. A google image search will show you many examples!