Which Bird Is the Fastest Runner?

Find out how an emu, a roadrunner, and an ostrich would place in a race against each other—and a pair of Olympic sprinters.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of the National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.

This is BirdNote.

“Ladies, gentlemen, and birds: Take your marks!”

Lined up at the starting blocks for the 100-meter dash are the world’s fastest man and the fastest woman. Alongside them are an Ostrich, an Emu, and a roadrunner. 

“And they’re off!”

Olympic sprinters are awesomely fast runners. Usain Bolt ran the fastest men’s 100-meter dash ever recorded, reaching a top speed during the sprint of almost 28 miles per hour. Man, that’s fast! And Florence Griffith-Joyner, the fastest woman, ran the hundred just a shade slower. 
But are they any match for some of the swiftest birds on two legs? In the time it took to explain this, all of our runners have crossed the finish line. 

And the gold medal goes to... Africa’s Ostrich! Sprinting across the finish line at an incredible 43 miles an hour. This bird can trot at 31 miles an hour for miles and miles. The Emu from Australia takes silver, easily topping 30 miles an hour. And standing proudly on the podium alongside the big birds, the world’s fastest man and woman. They took bronze just a tick ahead of the roadrunner. I wonder whose picture will appear on the box of Wheaties.

For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.
Support for BirdNote comes from Songbird Coffee: offering bird-friendly, organic, shade-grown coffees for over twenty years. Learn more at BirdNote.org/songbird.



Written by Bob Sundstrom

Producer: John Kessler

Managing Producer: Jason Saul

Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone

Narrator: Michael Stein

BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler. Crowds recorded by John Kessler.

© 2017 Tune In to Nature.org  

September 2017   ID# speed-01-2017-09-29    speed-01