Designed to Run

on January 1, 2015

What’s that I hear? The thunderous sound of large birds dashing across the open plain. Not all birds are designed to fly gracefully across the open sky. Some are designed as long-distance runners and can even outrun a horse.


Cassowary, Rhea, and Emu


Ostrich: These amazing birds can reach as tall as 9 feet (3 m)!

  • Balancing Poles

    Why does a flightless bird have wings? They help the birds maneuver and keep balance while zigzagging across open areas.

  • Built for Distance

    Ostriches are the world’s largest birds. Their long, muscular legs can stride up to 11.5 feet (3.5 m) in a single step. This allows them to cover great distances with little effort, outlasting lions, leopards, or even horses.

  • Deadly Kick

    When threatened, an ostrich prefers to run or hide. But if cornered, the ostrich can deliver a deadly kick with its muscular legs. So watch out!

  • Light on Their Feet

    Ostriches are the world’s heaviest birds—weighing up to 290 pounds (130 kg). Yet their unique design of two toes, one longer than the other, allows them to sprint up to 43.5 miles per hour (70 km/h)—the fastest birds on the planet.

Designed Not to Fly

This issue shares some of the amazing designs of flightless birds.

Browse Kids Issue