April 25, 2024 at 12:37 pm

Why Is The Longest A Bird Can Fly Without Flapping Their Wings? Researchers Have Figured It Out.

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

If you’ve spent any time with your eyes turned toward the sky, you’ve probably noticed that birds don’t always have to flap their wings to stay aloft.

Sometimes they just open their wings and soar on the breeze, an act that has made more than a few poetic humans put longing into words.

How long can they go without flapping, though? Can some species manage longer periods than others?

Let’s find out!

There is, as it turns out, one huge bird that has an impressive wingspan and a penchant for gliding high – the Andean condor.

Source: Shutterstock

This bird is at home in the Andes and can weigh up to 33 pounds. This makes it the world’s heaviest soaring bird, but with a wingspan of 10.5 feet, it’s got the goods to make it happen.

As it turns out, its weight actually works in its favor.

Flapping would require too much energy, while utilize hot air currents doesn’t expend much at all.

A team of researchers from Swansea University and the National University of Comahue worked together to track 8 Andean condors over the course of 5 years, primarily to log their wingbeats.

The data revealed that the condor flapped their wings for only 1% of their total flight time.

This makes them the bird that flaps the least, narrowly beating the albatross, who have to flap 1.2% of their flight time.

Source: Shutterstock

Both birds flap the most during takeoff, around 75%. After that, it’s nothing but air currents and lazy circling.

One bird traveled 107 miles in 5 hours and never flapped once.

Study author Dr. Hannah Williams says the weather can impact the percentages, however.

“This suggests that decisions about when and where to land are crucial, as not only do condors need to be able to take off again, but unnecessary landings will add significantly to their overall flight costs.”

And for condors, intelligence isn’t hard won by maturity.

“Our results demonstrate that even inexperienced birds can cover vast distances over land without flapping.”

The bid birds might be the showiest, but the bird who can spend the most amount of time in the air is the common swift.

Small but mighty.

If you enjoyed that story, check out what happened when a guy gave ChatGPT $100 to make as money as possible, and it turned out exactly how you would expect.