Types And Characteristics Of Aerial Animals With Examples (Flying Animals)

We explain the Types And Characteristics Of Aerial Animals and how they are classified. Also, what are its characteristics with pictures, list and some examples.

What Are Aerial (Flying) Animals?

Aerial animals are those that can fly on their own . Some have wings that allow them to move through the air and continue flying for a long time (controlling their direction, speed and height). Others move through the air but with less control over their flight (so they cannot travel very long distances). There are also aerial animals that can glide, despite not having wings, and they do so thanks to the anatomical shape of their bodies.

Within the group of aerial animals are different species that have the ability to fly, but that action is conditioned by the anatomical structure and the need for survival of each species .

For example, some can fly great distances (to migrate and avoid very low temperatures during the winter or to look for food). In other cases, they can barely move for a few moments in the air (to defend themselves against their predators or to hunt their prey), etc.

Examples of aerial animals

flying animals blanket
Mobulas can use their anatomy to jump over the surface of the water.

Some examples of aerial animals are:

  • The hummingbird. Also known as “hummingbird”, it is the smallest bird in the world, within the group of vertebrates . Its wings can move up to eighty times per second and, when the male wants to impress a female, it can flap its wings up to two hundred times per second. It is the only species capable of flying in all directions and even levitate on site.
  • Cockatoo It is considered a very intelligent bird and is distinguished by its peculiar plume of yellow feathers. It presents an anatomy similar to that of the parrot, due to the shape of the beak and its legs, but its feathers are white. It lives in Australia, Indonesia, Puerto Rico and New Zealand. Its type of reproduction is monogamous and remains in pairs in the same nest, for more than four years. Also, he likes to fly in a group.
  • The Eagle. It is the largest predatory bird that with its powerful claws and strong muscles can catch prey of the same weight and take flight. It can fly up to two hundred kilometers per hour and, thanks to its excellent vision, it can see its prey from two thousand meters away. Females are larger than males, their type of reproduction is monogamous and they stay together for several years.
  • The toucan. It is considered an exotic species and stands out for its thick, long and colorful beak, which it uses to defend itself and to feed on tropical fruits, insects, lizards and eggs. It is native to tropical areas of America and is characterized by being sedentary and living all its life in the same area, that is, it is not a migratory bird. I came as a couple (he is monogamous) and in flocks of about six members.
  • The flamenco. It is a bird that is distinguished by its long legs and its long, curved neck. It lives in tropical areas, close to salty waters. The color of its plumage varies according to the species, but pink predominates. It feeds on algae, larvae, insects, crustaceans, mollusks and small fish. It is very sociable and communicates with its own species (especially with its young) through nasal sounds.
  • The ladybug. It is an insect from the group of arthropods , of the invertebrate type , also known as “Vaquita de San Antonio”. It has a kind of shell that turns out to be, in reality, a pair of thick, brightly colored wings (red, orange, or yellow, with black spots) that cover and protect its functional wings. During the winter, it is usually grouped from ten to fifteen individuals to protect themselves from the cold. It feeds on plants, mites, aphids and mealybugs, among others.
  • The flying ant. The ant is a very sociable insect that usually lives in large, organized communities underground. Flying ants are those that develop wings only in their reproductive season (act called “nuptial flight”). It feeds on fruits, plants, rotten meat and mainly on a type of fungus that grows through the leaves it collects.
  • The moth. It is an invertebrate insect that has scales covered wings. It belongs to the group of “night butterflies” but it has a smaller build and is less showy than a butterfly. It is characterized by going through a complete metamorphosis, that is, it goes through four stages throughout its life : that of an egg, that of a larva, that of a cocoon and finally that of an adult moth (or butterfly) night). During adulthood, it feeds on the nectar of flowers and lives for a short time, just a few weeks.
  • The mobula blanket. It is from the family of mylobatids (cartilaginous fish that are known as stingray or stingray) and stands out for having the largest brain among the fish in its group. It is usually large in size and lives in the open ocean , not just at the bottom of the sea. It feeds on small crustaceans (such as krill) that are filtered with its huge mouth while swimming. It can measure up to twenty-five meters in length and has a mucous membrane that protects your skin, an organ that you can lose if it is touched by humans.

Types of aerial animals

ant flying animals
Flying ants develop wings only in their breeding season.

Aerial animals can belong to the following groups:

  • Birds. They are animals that are characterized by being bipeds (capable of making small jumps and sometimes walking), vertebrates with a light skeleton (which makes it easier for them to fly), with wings or fins and warm blooded. The vast majority have the ability to fly, except for a few like penguins. They have their body covered in feathers (a defining characteristic of birds) that provide protection against low temperatures , wind, humidity and intense sun.
  • Insects They are invertebrate animals (that is, they have an exoskeleton that supports the organism) and usually have antennas that fulfill the function of the main sensory organ through which they experience touch, smell, hearing and sense of orientation. Its wings are made up of light membranes. They feed on vegetables and other smaller insects.
  • Mammals . They are warm-blooded vertebrate animals with four limbs. The only mammal capable of flight is the bat, which also has a thin elastic skin membrane between its extremities, which allows it to move through the air. Other mammals, such as squirrels, can jump between trees and glide until they reach another nearby plant, but it is not a controlled movement or that they can keep in the air.
  • Fishes. The “flying fish” do not have wings nor do they fly, but glide or glide for an instant thanks to their slim and elongated anatomy (in the form of an aerodynamic torpedo) that allows them to swim at high speed (up to sixty kilometers per hour) and take enough momentum to jump out of the water and move through the air. About forty varieties of flying fish have been discovered.
  • Reptiles . Currently there are no reptiles capable of flight. In the time of the dinosaurs (the Mesozoic era), the reptile called “pterosaur” was one of the first vertebrates to acquire the ability to fly. The first pterosaur fossil was found in 1784 and only from 1801 was it recognized as an aerial animal.

Classification of aerial animals according to their habitat

In animals, according to their habitat, we can find airborne ones. These can be grouped in different ways: by their diet, by their habitat and their skeleton.

According to their diet

In the world there are many types of animals so their diet is very wide, among them we can say that:


These animals eat vegetation leading a life rich in seeds and fruits . In this group we can find specimens of all types of aerial animals.


These animals are characterized mostly by birds, which have the ability to scratch to find insects where they want them to be. In addition to having a way of detecting insects. Also bats have this characteristic.

Carnivores and scavengers

Carnivores are responsible for hunting animals from the heights, to eat these they can hunt at night. While scavengers eat the leftovers left by other animals, that is, rotting meat. Birds and insects are the main ones in this group.

Insect feeding

Insects can normally feed on plants or eat each other.

According to its skeleton

Most aerial animals are represented by birds, vertebrate animals. Also, on the other hand, are invertebrate animals, in which we can locate a wide variety of aerial insects.


Aerial vertebrates are represented by birds, mammals, and reptiles . Among mammals and reptiles you can find gliding, non-flying animals.

Birds have an air sac that helps the bird be lighter when it comes to flying because it is an organ that helps maintain oxygen and expel carbon dioxide.


There are also insects , which if we go by their skeleton tells us that they are divided in part. It is divided into 2 head and thorax , where all the organs , wings and legs are located in the thorax . In reality, the thorax is the center of insects. These insects are sustained because they have a strong skeleton.

Characteristics of aerial animals

Characteristics Of Aerial Animals
The bat is the only mammal capable of controlled and sustained flight.

Characteristics Of Aerial Animals: Aerial animals are mainly characterized by being able to fly using their wings, through the impulse in the air. These wings are covered with feathers in the case of birds, or are made up of silky membranes in the case of insects. However, some animals have wings and cannot fly.

The type of reproduction in general is oviparous , that is, by means of eggs that are deposited in the external environment (as in the earth, in the heights of the trees or on the banks of the water). Their habitat is not exclusively the air , they also live on land or in water. So they can feed on seeds, fruits, worms and carrion, among others.

Each flying animal species has its own way of flying according to its physical characteristics, but most of these animals must possess a series of common attributes that allow flight :

Characteristics Of Aerial Animals:

  • Wings (Characteristics Of Aerial Animals): all flying animals have wings. In some cases, these wings are modifications of the forelimbs of the body, as in birds or flying mammals (bats), where the bones have been modified throughout evolution, providing or improving capacity. Other animals have developed wings, which is known as evolutionary convergence , that is, due to similar environmental pressures. This is the case with insects.
  • Low weight (Characteristics Of Aerial Animals): for an animal to be able to fly it must not be very heavy. Birds have reduced the weight of their bones by increasing their porosity, making them lighter. Flying invertebrates weigh little, since the material from which their exoskeleton is made is very light. Those flying animals that have a greater weight cannot fly long distances because they cannot stay in flight for long.
  • Cardiac capacity (Characteristics Of Aerial Animals): both the muscles responsible for flight and the heart muscle itself are highly developed in flying animals. Flight uses a lot of energy and a greater amount of oxygen must reach the muscles. For this to happen, the heart rate is very high and the concentrations of hemoglobin in the blood (protein that carries oxygen in the blood) too.
  • Streamlined shape (Characteristics Of Aerial Animals) – Body shape is important too. Reducing the resistance that the body exerts against the air serves to be more efficient in flight. Having a less aerodynamic shape does not mean not being able to fly, but it does mean making it slower.

List of aerial animals

Although the above are the aerial animals that we can have more present in our day to day, there are many species of animals that fly that exist. Here is a complete list of some of them:

  • European bee ( Apis mellifera )
  • Traveling Albatross ( Diomedea exulans )
  • Imperial Eagle ( Aquila adalberti )
  • Osprey ( Pandion haliaetus )
  • Golden Eagle ( Aquila chrysaetos )
  • Colipint needle ( Limosa lapponica )
  • German wasp ( Vespula germanica)
  • Ruppell’s griffon vulture ( Gyps rueppelli )
  • Black vulture ( Aegypius monachus)
  • Eagle owl ( Bubo bubo )
  • Common basket ( Glareola pratincola )
  • White stork ( Ciconia ciconia )
  • Black stork ( Ciconia nigra )
  • Andes Condor ( Vultur gryphus )
  • German cockroach ( Blattella germanica )
  • Purple heron ( Ardea purpurea )
  • Gloomy gull ( Larus fucus )
  • Arctic Tern ( Sterna paradisaea )
  • Common Flamingo ( Phoenicopterus roseus )

To find out some more curiosities about some of these aerial animals and see them in photos, in the following sections we show 10 birds and insects that fly .

1. Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

Typically, it flies at about 4,000 meters above sea level, although specimens have been found with the capacity to exceed 6,000 meters.

Characteristics Of Aerial Animals-Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

2. Spotted vulture (Gyps rueppelli)

It is the flying bird with the ability to fly higher, reaching over 11,000 meters in height.

Characteristics Of Aerial Animals-Spotted vulture (Gyps rueppelli)

3. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

It is the fastest bird in horizontal flight, reaching 200 km / h.

Characteristics Of Aerial Animals-Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

4. Zunzuncito hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae)

This type of hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world (weighs less than 2 grams) and can reach a speed of 50 km / h.

Characteristics Of Aerial Animals-Zunzuncito hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae)

5. German cockroach (Blattella germanica)

This is one of the winged cockroach varieties, so it has the ability to fly. Its size is small, since it barely reaches 2 cm in length.

German cockroach (Blattella germanica)

6. Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea)

The tern or Arctic tern is a small bird (25-40 cm) that stands out for its migratory journeys, traveling from the Arctic to Antarctica and thus totaling more than 40,000 km.

Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea)

7. Common flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)

The common flamingo is one of the best known migratory birds in the world, so they are animals that fly over long distances. It travels based on food availability and can go from West Africa to the Mediterranean.

Common flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)

8. Orange striped dragonfly (Pantala flavescens)

This type of dragonfly is considered to be the migratory insect that travels the longest distance, being able to exceed 18,000 km.

Orange striped dragonfly (Pantala flavescens)

9. Atlas butterfly (Attacus atlas)

It is the largest butterfly in the world, as it can measure up to 30 cm with its wings fully open. Of course, precisely due to its large size, its flight is heavier and slower than that of the smaller species.

Atlas butterfly (Attacus atlas)

10. Common nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)

The nightingale is a bird known for its beautiful song, and this little bird is capable of emitting very varied tones, learned from its parents and transmitted to its children.

Common nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)

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