Flying is an ability of birds that is envied by humans.
This ability has been a source of inspiration for centuries and which led to the development of airplanes and space rockets which can travel thousands of feet from the ground.
Today we will discuss some birds that soar high in the sky. These beautiful creatures can reach heights as high as 40,000 feet where oxygen levels are low and the al
1. Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture- 36,000 feet
The Ruppel’s Griffon Vulture is a scavenger bird of prey native to Africa and can be found in countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia, Senega, Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania.
This bird dines predominantly on carrion i.e. carcass of dead animals.
This species has been discovered to fly as high as 36,000 feet above sea level.
There is an adaptation in its body which allows the bird to fly at such high altitudes and helps it acclimatize to the low oxygen levels.
The ruppell’s griffon vulture grows to an height of about 84-97 centimetres and has a wing span of 2.5 meters which is about 8 feet in length.
This species can remain at high altitudes for close to 7 hours, using energy currents to soar and conserve their energy.
2. The Common Crane – 33,000 feet
The common crane also known as the Eurasian crane can fly as high as 33,000 feet during migration.
This species is native to some parts of Asia and Europe such as Germany, Ukraine and the likes.
The common crate migrates to and winters in Northern Africa.
This species has a wingspan of between 6 to 8 feet and it is known for it’s thin long legs and is also known for the hairy crest on its head.
During migration, the cranes start out flapping their wings steadily when flying over the sea.
Once they are over the coast they maintain their flight by soaring o thermal currents at the high altitude.
Common cranes are known for their social migratory behavior and usually fly in a V-shape formation.
Related: Here is an article I wrote on birds that build hanging nests
3. Bar-Headed Goose – 29,000 feet
The bar-headed goose is home to Asia, especially Central Asia around high altitude lakes and feeds on short grasses which grow around the lake.
They spend most of their days around the Himalayan mountains.
This species of geese is adapted to flying at those high altitudes because of slower metabolism and also has a greater lung capacity.
This helps them retain oxygen at high altitudes where the oxygen level is low.
These birds are migratory in nature and can go as far as a thousand miles per day.
Continuous research is being carried out on how the bar-headed geese is able to soar at those levels for a bird that is not a raptor.
4. Whooper Swan – 27,000 feet
A pair of whooper swans (Cygnus cygnus) is a lovely bird that stays together for the rest of its life.
These birds are found in wetland habitats throughout Europe and Asia.
Their breeding grounds are in subarctic Eurasia.
They move southward during the winter months to southern Europe, eastern Asia, and, on rare occasions, the Indian subcontinent.
It is believed that these birds communicate with one another by using a variety of signaling gestures during their migration, which is well coordinated.
When it comes to the title of the world’s highest-flying bird, whooper swans are one of the strongest challengers in the race.
According to radar data, a flock of these birds was spotted flying above Northern Ireland at an altitude of 8,200 meters (27,000 feet).
They use soaring within air thermals to save energy during their long winter journeys.
5. Alpine Chough – 26,500 Feet
The Alpine chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus) is a bird species that is a member of the crow family and is found in the Alps.
Their breeding ground is in the high mountains of Europe, northern Africa, and Asia, where they can be found in large groups.
The eggs of these birds have evolved to be able to withstand the reduced oxygen present in the atmosphere at the high elevations where they live, allowing them to survive.
According to reports, alpine chough sightings have been reported at altitudes of up to 8,000 meters (26,500 feet), soaring over the great Himalayan peaks, including the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest.
Also check out this article I wrote on birds that destroy farmer’s crops
6. Bearded Vulture – 24,000 Feet
The bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), found in the hilly regions of Asia, Africa, and Europe, is a member of the vulture family.
These birds can be found in mountain ranges throughout the Old World, including the Pyrenees, the Himalayas, the Zagros Mountains, the Alps, the Altai Mountains, and other mountain ranges in the Middle East and North Africa.
Bearded vultures are found only at high altitudes and are rarely seen at elevations lower than 3,300 ft.
The high-flying bird has been observed flying at altitudes of up to 24,000 feet and reaching these heights with upward soaring motions.
7. Bar-tailed Godwit – 20,000 Feet
Limosa lapponica, the bar-tailed godwit, breeds on the tundra and arctic shores of Eurasia during the breeding season and winters in tropical and temperate habitats throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, and even as far as Australia and New Zealand during the wintering season.
The bar-tailed godwit’s migration is the world’s longest continuous bird migration, making it unique.
In addition, it has achieved a world record for traveling the longest distance without stopping to refuel.
In the course of its annual journey, the bird has been observed to soar as high as 20,000 feet.
8. White Stork – 16,000 Feet
The white stork (Ciconia ciconia) breeds across Europe, southwestern Asia, northwestern and southern Africa, as well as the Middle East and North Africa.
The bird migrates a vast distance during the winter, traveling from Europe to sub-Saharan Africa, southern Africa, and the Indian subcontinent.
During such migrations, the white stork steers clear of the Mediterranean Sea by traveling through the Levant.
As one of the world’s highest-flying birds, the white stork soars to 4,800 meters (16,000 feet) above the earth’s surface during its annual migration.
9. Andean Condor
Andean condors are large heavy birds which are reputed to be one of the heaviest in the world.
Andean condors are seen at high altitudes and they can fly for hours at this pace.
It is sometimes difficult for them to lift off as their wings are too heavy for flapping. They rely on thermal winds to gain altitude by soaring.
They also use this method to remain in the air for hours.
10. Mallard – 21000 Feet
Its range includes both the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere, making the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) a widely distributed duck with a dabbling behavior.
Those birds that live in the northernmost sections of their breeding area have migratory characteristics.
For example, birds from the northern ranges of North America migrate south to Mexico or even further south to Central America and the Caribbean, depending on the season and location.
As high as 6,400 meters has been seen in the flight path of mallards (21,000 feet).
These birds are one of the highest flying in the world and are known as the masters of the skies.
From the Ruppell Griffon Vulture to the Andean Condor they show us there is a reason these birds are not only spectacular but amazing