Dino-Feathers: 17 Birds That Look Like Dinosaurs




Birds That Look Like Dinosaurs

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Birds that look like dinosaurs are a fascinating group of avian species that are characterized by their resemblance to the prehistoric reptiles. These birds have distinct physical features that are reminiscent of the ancient creatures, such as sharp claws, long tails, and sharp beaks.

Some of the most well-known examples of birds that look like dinosaurs include the cassowary, ostrich, emu, and the secretary bird. Their physical resemblance to dinosaurs has led scientists to believe that birds are the direct descendants of the prehistoric reptiles that once roamed the earth.

List of birds that look like dinosaurs

  1. Southern Cassowary

  2. Great Blue Heron

  3. Helmeted Hornbill

  4. Ostrich

  5. Pelican

  6. Sandhill Crane

  7. Shoebill Stork

  8. Toucan

  9. Chicken Gallus gallus

  10. Hoatzin

  11. Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae)

  12. Red-legged seriema

  13. Kiwi (Apteryx spp)

  14. South Island Takahē

  15. Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

  16. Secretary bird

  17. Harpy eagle


Cassowaries attributes 1
Cassowaries close up
Scientific NameColoeus monedula
Length13.4-15.4 in
Wingspan27.5-35.4 in
Weight220-270 g

Cassowaries are large, flightless birds native to the tropical forests of New Guinea, northeastern Australia, and the surrounding islands. They are one of the largest bird species in the world, standing up to 6 feet tall and weighing as much as 130 pounds. Cassowaries are instantly recognizable by their vibrant blue and red necks, sturdy black bodies, and a prominent casque, or helmet-like ridge, on top of their heads. This casque is thought to help in foraging by pushing aside foliage and in sound resonance.

In the wild, Cassowaries play a crucial role in the ecosystem, acting as efficient seed dispersers for numerous plants. They have a varied diet that includes fruit, fungi, insects, and small vertebrates. Despite their beauty, they are known to be potentially dangerous due to their powerful legs equipped with dagger-like claws.

Secretary Bird

Secretary Bird
Secretary bird 1
Scientific NameSagittarius serpentarius
Length4 to 4.5 feet
Wingspan6 to 7.5 feet
Weight8 to 10 llbs

The Secretary Bird, is a unique bird of prey native to the open grasslands and savannas of sub-Saharan Africa. Unmistakable due to its long legs and eagle-like body, the Secretary Bird is unlike any other raptor.

It is well-known for its long, crane-like legs which it uses to hunt and deliver powerful kicks to its prey. The Secretary Bird has a short, hooked beak typical of birds of prey, and it possesses grey and black feathers with a distinctive black crest of long feathers at the back of its head.

Despite its ability to fly, the Secretary Bird spends most of its time on the ground, striding about the savanna in search of food. Its diet primarily consists of insects, rodents, lizards, snakes, and small birds. It is particularly famed for its skill in killing snakes, and it often uses its strong, agile legs to stamp on and stun its prey before delivering the fatal peck with its beak.

Harpy Eagle

Harpy Eagle
Harpy Eagle 2
Scientific NameHarpia harpyja
Length35 to 41 in
Wingspan6 to 7 feet
Weight10 to 20 llbs

The Harpy Eagle, scientifically known as Harpia harpyja, is one of the largest and most powerful birds of prey in the world. It is primarily found in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America.

Their feathers are slate grey on their backs and wings, with a paler, almost white belly, and they have a distinctive black band across their chest. One of their most remarkable features is a double crest of feathers on their heads, which they can raise or lower depending on their mood.

Harpy Eagles have a diet that consists primarily of tree-dwelling animals, such as monkeys and sloths, which they capture with their large, powerful talons. Their exceptional strength enables them to snatch their prey directly from tree branches and carry them away for consumption.

These majestic birds are known for their solitary habits and large territories. They nest high in the rainforest canopy, where they raise one or two chicks every two to three years. The nests are enormous, often several feet wide, and are reused for multiple breeding seasons.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron attributes
Great Blue Heron close up
Scientific NameArdea herodias
Length36–54 in
Wingspan66–79 in
Weight1.82–3.6 kgs

Great Blue Herons are the largest heron species in North America, is distinguished by its tall stature and unique blue-gray plumage.

Measuring up to 4.5 feet tall with a wingspan of approximately 6.5 feet, the bird features a long, pointed bill, a white head with a black eye stripe extending to slender black plumes, and robust, elongated legs. Its distinctive flight pattern, forming a tight “S” shape with its neck, sets it apart from similar large birds, like cranes.

Inhabiting various wetland habitats, including marshes, lakes, rivers, and coastal regions throughout much of North and Central America, the Great Blue Heron is a wading bird. Often seen poised statue-like at the water’s edge, these birds are expert hunters, spearing fish and capturing small animals with their sharp bills.

Helmeted Hornbill

Helmeted Hornbill attributes
Helmeted Hornbill close up
Scientific NameRhinoplax vigil
Length43.3-47.2 in
Wingspan71.6-72 in
Weight2.7-3.1 kg

The Helmeted Hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil) is a large bird species found in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. It is distinguished by its large helmet-like casque above the beak, which is solid and represents about 11% of its total weight. The body is mostly covered in dark brown feathers, with white tail feathers. The bare skin on the throat and neck is bright red in males, but is paler in females.

This unique bird is critically endangered, largely due to the illegal wildlife trade. The helmet-like casque, made from a substance called hornbill ivory, is highly prized for carving and jewelry, which has led to extensive hunting of the species. Moreover, the Helmeted Hornbill faces significant threats from habitat loss due to deforestation for timber and palm oil plantations.


Ostrich attributes
Ostriches close up
Scientific NameStruthio camelus
Length6.9-9.2 ft
Wingspan6.6-7.9 ft
Weight63.5-145.15 kg

The Ostrich (Struthio camelus) holds the record for being the world’s largest bird. Native to Africa, it can reach up to 9 feet in height and weigh over 300 pounds. Despite its substantial weight, the ostrich is a fleet runner, capable of reaching speeds up to 60 miles per hour, which serves as its primary means of evading predators. Its physical characteristics are distinctive, with a long, slender neck, large round body covered in fluffy feathers, and long, muscular legs ending in two-toed feet.

The Ostrich is also notable for its unique behaviors and adaptations. Unlike most birds, it has a leathery skin rather than feathers on its head and neck, an adaptation to the harsh sun of its desert and savannah habitats. It is a flightless bird, but its powerful legs not only provide speed but also a formidable defense in the form of a powerful kick. Ostriches are omnivores, feeding on a mix of vegetation, insects, and small animals. They lay the largest eggs of any living bird.

American White Pelican

American White Pelican attributes
American White Pelican close up
Scientific NamePelecanus erythrorhynchos
Length50–70 in
Wingspan95–120 in
Weight3.5 and 13.6 kg

The American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) is one of North America’s largest birds, distinguished by its brilliant white plumage, elongated orange bill, and massive wingspan, which can extend up to 3 meters. This bird has a unique appearance with its distinctive pouch used for feeding and a “horn” on the upper part of the bill during the breeding season. Though a large bird, it is very graceful in flight, often seen soaring in flocks in a V formation.

American White Pelicans inhabit lakes, marshes, and salt bays, and despite their size, they are excellent swimmers. They feed primarily on fish, using a cooperative hunting strategy where they encircle schools of fish in shallow water and then scoop them up in their bill pouches. Unlike their brown pelican relatives, they do not dive for their food. During the breeding season, these pelicans will nest in colonies on islands in freshwater lakes.

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane attributes
Sandhill Crane close up
Scientific NameAntigone canadensis
Length2 ft 7 in to 4 ft 6 in
Wingspan16.5–23.6 in
Weight4.02-4.57 kg

The Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis) is a distinguished bird species found in the family Gruidae, renowned for its majestic presence and elaborate courtship dances.

These long-legged birds stand approximately 4 feet tall with a wingspan of up to 7 feet, marked by gray bodies, white cheeks, pointy dark bills, and an iconic red cap on their heads. Typically, they inhabit grasslands, marshes, and fields across North America, Siberia, and Cuba.

Being omnivorous, Sandhill Cranes thrive on a varied diet consisting of plant material, small mammals, amphibians, and insects. With a lifespan reaching up to 20 years in the wild, they remain one of the most widespread crane species globally.


Shoebills attributes
Shoebills close up
Scientific NameBalaeniceps rex
Length43 to 55 in
Wingspan7 ft 7 in to 8 ft 6 in
Weight4 to 7 kg

The Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex), also known as the Whalehead, is one of the most striking birds in the world due to its distinctive, large shoe-shaped bill. This enormous bill is well-adapted for catching and holding onto their preferred prey, which includes fish, amphibians, and small reptiles. The Shoebill stands tall, reaching heights of up to 5 feet, with an impressive wingspan that can extend over 8 feet. Its overall coloration is bluish-grey, and its broad wings and long legs further contribute to its imposing presence.

Native to East Africa, Shoebills primarily inhabit freshwater swamps and dense marshes. They are known for their statue-like stillness when hunting, where they can remain motionless for extended periods before striking with lightning speed to catch their prey. The Shoebill is considered a vulnerable species due to habitat loss, disturbance, and illegal wildlife trade.


Toucan attributes
Toucan close up
Scientific NamePteroglossus inscriptus
Length21.6-25.6 in
Wingspan43-51 in
Weight500-860 g

Toucans are tropical birds well-known for their large, colorful bills, which despite their size are surprisingly light due to the spongy structure of the bone. This distinctive feature is used in foraging for food, heat regulation, and attracting mates.

Toucans have vibrant feathers, most commonly black with splashes of bright colors, adding to their visual appeal. The size and coloration of toucans vary widely across different species; there are about 40 different species within the toucan family (Ramphastidae).

Native to the forests of Central and South America, toucans inhabit the canopy layer, using their bills to reach fruit on the tips of branches. They are also known to eat insects, eggs, and small lizards. Toucans are social birds, often found in small flocks. They are cavity nesters, using natural holes in trees for rearing their young.


Chicken 1
Scientific NameGallus gallus
Length14 to 18 in
Wingspan24 to 36 in
Weight4 to 8lbs

The Chicken, is a subspecies of the red junglefowl, and is one of the most common domestic animals in the world. They have been domesticated for thousands of years and are raised for their meat and eggs, while some breeds are also kept for their distinctive appearances or for cockfighting.

Chickens come in a wide range of sizes, colors, and shapes depending on the breed. Their plumage can be white, brown, black, or a mixture of colors, and they often have a “comb” and “wattles,” which are fleshy, bright red appendages on their heads and necks.

Chickens are omnivorous and their diet in the wild would include seeds, insects, and even small mice or lizards. However, domestic chickens are often fed commercially produced chicken feed that provides a balanced diet suitable for their needs. Chickens require a high-protein diet to produce eggs and to maintain their health.


Hoatzin attributes
Hoatzin close up
Scientific NameOpisthocomus hoazin
Length25.6-27.6 in
Wingspan34.6-36.2 in
Weight780-925 g

The Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) is a highly distinctive bird native to the swamps, mangroves, and riverine forests of the Amazon and the Orinoco delta in South America. Known for its peculiar appearance, it boasts a crest of long, spiky feathers on its head, a blue face with maroon eyes, and a body covered in chestnut, white, and black plumage. Its size is comparable to that of a pheasant, reaching a length of approximately 65 cm.

The Hoatzin is most famous for its unique digestive system. It’s one of the few bird species that is folivorous, meaning its diet consists primarily of leaves. To digest these, the Hoatzin uses a fermentation process similar to that in the stomach of a cow, which occurs in an unusually large crop. This diet and digestive method give the Hoatzin a strong, unpleasant smell, earning it the nickname of “stinkbird.” Another fascinating aspect of the Hoatzin is that the chicks are equipped with small claws on their wings, enabling them to climb trees until they are proficient fliers.


Emu attributes
Emu close up
Scientific NameDromaius novaehollandiae
Length6.2 ft
Wingspan7.9 in
Weight18-60 kg

The Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) is the second-largest bird by height, native to Australia, and an iconic part of the country’s fauna. Reaching up to 1.9 meters in height, Emus are characterized by their long necks, strong legs, and soft, shaggy-feathered bodies that are predominantly brownish-grey in color. While flightless, Emus are swift runners and strong swimmers, capable of reaching speeds up to 50 km/h on land.

Despite the harsh environments they inhabit, Emus have adapted well to the Australian landscape. They are omnivores, feeding on a wide variety of plants and insects, and have the ability to go weeks without eating. They can also endure a range of temperatures and travel long distances to find food. An interesting aspect of Emu behavior is that after females lay their eggs, it is the males who incubate them for around eight weeks without eating or drinking.

Red-legged seriema

Red legged seriema 1
Red legged seriema 2
Scientific NameCariama cristata
Length24 to 35 in
Wingspan3 to 4 feet
Weight3 to 4lbs

The Red-legged Seriema is known for its long legs and upright stance. The bird stands at about 90 cm (35 inches) tall, and its body is covered in gray and brown feathers, with some distinctive black markings. Its long, powerful legs, from which it derives its name, are a bright red color. It also has a crest of feathers on its head that can be raised and lowered.

Interestingly, while the Red-legged Seriema can fly, it prefers to roam on the ground in the open grasslands, savannas, and even woodland edges. Its long legs allow it to run at impressive speeds, which it uses to escape predators or chase prey.

The diet of the Red-legged Seriema is varied, including insects, lizards, snakes, rodents, and sometimes even small birds. The bird is known to kill its prey by beating it against a rock or the ground to break the bones before swallowing it.


Kiwi 1
Kiwi 2
Scientific NameApteryx spp
Length16 to 20 in
Wingspanvestigial wings
Weight2.2 to 7.7lbs

The Kiwi is a unique and iconic bird native to New Zealand. There are five recognized species: the North Island Brown Kiwi, the Little Spotted Kiwi, the Great Spotted Kiwi, the Rowi, and the Tokoeka. Kiwis are flightless birds that have adapted to life on the ground.

One of the most noticeable features of the Kiwi is its size, with the birds typically standing about the size of a chicken. They possess a round, compact body covered with shaggy, hair-like feathers that can be brown, grey, or off-white in color. They have short legs with powerful muscles and long, sharp claws, which they use for digging and for defense.

One distinguishing characteristic of the Kiwi is its long, narrow beak, which can measure up to one-third of the bird’s total body length. The beak is quite sensitive and is used to probe the ground for food, as Kiwis are primarily nocturnal and have poor eyesight. They primarily feed on small invertebrates, seeds, grubs, and many varieties of worms.

South Island Takahē

Kiwi 2 1
South Island Takahe 2
Scientific NamePorphyrio hochstetteri
Length23 to 25 in
Wingspan25 to 30 in
Weight5.5 to 9lbs

The South Island Takahē, is a flightless bird that is native to New Zealand. Once believed to be extinct, this bird is now an important symbol of conservation efforts in the country. It possesses short, strong legs and a chunky body, making it well-adapted to life on the ground. The bird’s plumage is a beautiful mix of dark blue and green on its body, with a lighter blue on its neck and head. It has a distinctive red bill and legs.

The Takahē is a herbivore and primarily feeds on grass and leaves. It uses its powerful bill to strip leaves from grasses and other plants, consuming the soft and digestible parts. In harsher winter months, they can also dig up and eat the roots of certain plants.

Takahē birds are monogamous, often forming long-term pair bonds. They typically build their nests in grassy areas and both parents take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the chicks.


Turkey 2
Scientific NameMeleagris gallopavo
Length3-4 feet
Wingspan4.5-5.5 feet

The Turkey is a large bird native to North America. There are two species of wild turkey: the North American Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) and the Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata). Domesticated turkeys, which are primarily raised for meat, are descendants of the North American Wild Turkey.

They have a distinctive fleshy wattle or “beard” that hangs from the underside of their neck. Turkeys are covered in dark feathers, which can have a beautiful iridescent sheen in sunlight.

One of the most distinctive features of the turkey is its fan-shaped tail. Male turkeys will spread their tail feathers out into this fan shape during courtship displays. Another distinctive feature of male turkeys is their “gobble” call, which can be heard up to a mile away.

Wild turkeys are omnivores, with a diet consisting of acorns, nuts, seeds, fruit, insects, and small vertebrates. Domesticated turkeys are usually fed a diet of commercial poultry feed that is specifically formulated to meet their nutritional needs.

What birds today most resemble dinosaurs?

Modern birds such as the cassowary species (particularly southern cassowaries), the whale headed stork, american bald eagle and ostriches are said to most closely resemble the prehistoric species from a million years ago. With their large size, long legs, and striking appearance, it is not not only the ostric show many physical similarities to their prehistoric ancestors, the non avian dinosaur. These similarities are part of their evolutionary history and make them appear like modern bird examples of feathered dinosaurs. Many of these primitive bird species are endangered species today.

How are theropod dinosaurs related to modern birds?

Theropod dinosaurs, which include the well-known Tyrannosaurus rex, are part of the same group as modern birds according to the fossil record. In fact, birds are considered the evolutionary offspring of small, feathered theropod dinosaurs. The hollow bones characteristic of birds were also present in theropods, showing another clear connection.

Are there any bird species considered living fossils?

Yes, there are several bird species that are considered living fossils due to their primitive characteristics and similarities to prehistoric creatures. The Northern cassowary and dwarf cassowary are among these that could make it into jurassic park! These birds display physical traits that are believed to be similar to those of their dinosaur ancestors.

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