Humans have time and again taken inspiration from the natural world and flight is no exception. Our fascination with the flight was fuelled by watching birds and making the machine to imitate that mechanism. However, there are some natural feats that continue to surprise us and these high flying birds are the perfect examples. They have evolved natural mechanisms to sustain such high flight where there is less than 10% oxygen as compared to sea level and here is a list of the highest flying birds in the world.
Highest Flying Birds In The World
1. Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture
This vulture found in Central Africa is the highest flying bird known to reach heights of 37,000 feet. Since the oxygen available at this height is very less, this bird’s blood has a special type of haemoglobin adapted to absorb oxygen more effectively. It has very sharp eyesight and can spot prey from great heights.
2. Eurasian Crane
This bird has different summer and winter habitats and achieves the highest height of 33,000 feet during its migratory flight between these habitats. In summer, it lives in Northern Europe and Asia and migrates to Northern Africa, flying over the Himalayas in characteristic ‘V’ shaped formations. It also undertakes one of the longest migratory flights in the world.
3. Bar-Headed Goose
Like the Eurasian Crane, this is a migratory bird living in Central Asia and migrating south during the winter months. Flocks of Bar-headed geese fly over the Himalayas reaching a maximum height of 29,000 feet and are some of highest flying migratory birds in the world. They have a higher number of red blood cells enabling them to absorb oxygen even at low concentrations.
4. Whooper Swan
These large migratory birds are commonly found in Southern Eurasia in the summer and migrate Westward in the winter to breed. Though they normally fly at heights of around 8,000 feet, flights as high as 27,000 feet have been recorded. They too fly in a ‘V’ formation and nest near water bodies like lakes, wetlands and ponds.
5. Alpine Chough
These birds live in the mountainous regions of Southern Europe and Central Asia and have adapted to the low oxygen conditions present at high altitudes. They normally nest at altitudes higher than 21,000 feet and are some of the highest flying birds due to their ability to reach heights of 26,500 feet when flying over mountain tops.
6. Bearded Vulture
These birds live in the mountainous regions of South Europe. The bearded vulture is one of the largest birds and has a wingspan of over 8 feet which enables it to sustain flight at altitudes of about 24,000 feet making it one of the highest flying birds in the world. It uses the height to drop large pieces of bone to break it into smaller pieces which it then swallows.
This migratory duck is found in North America and Europe in the summer and migrates south to Asia, including India, during the winter. It can be identified by its shining green head and large yellow beak. Though it usually flies at the height of 4000 feet, it has been recorded even at the height of 21,000 feet and so is one of the highest flying birds in the world.
8. Bar Tailed Godwit
These migratory birds spend the breeding season in the extreme north – in Alaska as Siberia and move to Australia and New Zealand during the winter months. They fly at a height of 20,000 feet and also hold the record for the longest continuous migration covering a distance of over 11,000 kilometres in about seven days.
9. White Stork
The White stork is a migratory bird living in South Europe and Central Asia and migrating to Africa in the winter months. They migrate in large flocks and can reach heights of up to 16,000 feet. They are easily identifiable because of their white wing feathers, long legs used for wading and black tail.
10. Andean Condor
This large bird lives in the Andes Mountains of South America and has adapted to its habitat and to flight at a great altitude. Despite a weight of about 15 kilograms, the strong flight muscles and large wings can help the bird reach a height of 15,000 feet where it glides using wind currents and looks for prey. Like the Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture, the Andean Condor is a scavenger and eats dead animals.
The next time you get on a flight, be sure to think about these highest-flying birds in the world who can reach such great heights due to their natural adaptations.
However, the sad truth is that due to climate change most of the bird species are either endangered or extinct. As per the study was done by North American Bird Conservation, In countries like the United States, Canada and Mexico bird needs urgent conservation. A study also reveals that one-third of bird population are in danger. Oil spills in coastal, grassland and arid lands are one of the primary reason for declining population. This is high time to take some action and take valuable steps against climate change. Also, Government of different countries should launch special conservation plans for species which are endangered and proper action should be taken without fail.
As per the report, a total of 37 percent population is in danger. If a proper action will not be taken these beautiful birds will be extinct from planet Earth. Pollution and climate change is also one of the reasons for declining population. Please read most beautiful and fascinating birds around the Earth. This will give you an overview how beautiful and colourful birds nature has given us.