can birds fly at 30 000 feet

How High and How Fast Do Birds Fly? In general, birds fly in accordance with the teasing advice that pilots frequently receive: “fly low and slow.” The average cruise speed is between 20 and 30 mph, and the fastest accurately recorded air speed is about 47 mph for an eider duck. But during a chase, things pick up speed. Ducks, for instance, can fly 60 mph or more, and reports suggest that a Peregrine Falcon can reach 200 mph (though 100 mph may be more typical). It’s interesting to note that a bird’s speed and size don’t really correlate. The maximum speeds that geese and hummingbirds can travel are comparable. Naturally, there is a significant difference between a bird’s maximum speed and its typical flying speed. One might anticipate that when the bird is “around home,” it will either minimize its metabolic rate—that is, use less energy per unit of time—or maximize the distance it travels for each unit of energy used. Similar to an observation aircraft pilot, a vulture searching for prey might maximize endurance, and a seabird flying to far-off feeding grounds might maximize range, akin to a Concorde facing headwinds during a transoceanic flight. Staying up longest does not necessarily mean going farthest. A bird’s maximum endurance in the air is six hours at 15 mph, or 90 miles, or five hours at 20 mph, or 100 miles, maximum range. As they race to defend a territory or are being pursued by a predator, birds can also opt to fly as fast as possible. Or they can choose some compromise between speed and range. Gary Schnell and Jenna Hellack of the University of Oklahoma measured the ground speeds of a dozen species of seabirds (gulls, terns, and a skimmer) close to their colony using Doppler radar, a tool akin to that used by police to apprehend speeders, in order to ascertain what the birds typically did. They also used an anemometer to measure the wind speed, which they then used to calculate the birds’ airspeeds. (Since surface friction slows air movements near the ground, some estimation errors resulted from measuring wind speeds generally closer to the ground than the birds did.) The majority of airspeeds were observed to be between 10 and 40 mph. It was possible to determine each bird’s power requirements at each speed, and using that data, it was determined that the birds were typically compromising between increasing their range and lowering their metabolic rates, with a greater focus on the former. Although airspeeds varied greatly, significant variations in airspeed did not necessitate sharp increases in energy consumption when the airspeed was close to the minimum metabolic rate. For instance, a gull that could fly at any speed between 15 and 28 mph without increasing its metabolic rate by more than 15 percent would be able to maintain its most efficient loiter airspeed of 22 mph. Most birds fly below 500 feet except during migration. There is no need to use the energy to go higher, and doing so could put you in danger from things like exposure to stronger winds or hawks’ keen vision. However, birds frequently soar to relatively high altitudes during migration, perhaps to evade dehydration in the warmer air near the ground. In the Caribbean, migratory birds are typically seen at elevations of 10,000 feet, though some are found at elevations of half or even twice that. Long-distance migrants typically begin their journey at 5,000 feet and gradually ascend to 20,000 feet. Similar to jet aircraft, migrants’ ideal cruise altitude rises as their “fuel” runs out and their weight decreases. In order to search wider areas for food and to observe the behavior of distant vultures for clues as to the location of a feast, vultures will occasionally soar above 10,000 feet. An airline pilot visually identified a flock of Whooper Swans at 29,000 feet after they were spotted on radar arriving over Northern Ireland during their migration, which is arguably the most impressive altitude record. Since bird lungs can extract a larger fraction of oxygen from the air than can mammal lungs, birds are able to fly at altitudes that would be impossible for bats to reach. SEE: Flight and Wing Shapes; Soaring; Vee Formation Flight; Flight Adaptations Copyright ® 1988 by Paul R. Ehrlich, David S. Dobkin, and Darryl Wheye.

Composed by Frances Wood] Introducing BirdNote! [Music from Sibelius’s Symphony 6 Op. 104] It appears that birds fly relatively low from our vantage point on land. Birds also stay below 500 feet for a large portion of the year. There’s no need to waste the energy flying skyward when there’s food and shelter waiting for them there. But there’s a good reason why birds should ascend during migration; many species soar at 2,000 to 5,000 feet, where the prevailing winds help them along the way. A bird may start a long-distance flight at 5,000 feet and gradually ascend to 20,000 feet. Birds can soar higher as their weight decreases, much like a jet plane that can do so as it runs out of fuel. A pilot flying at 29,000 feet was able to visually identify a flock of swans over Northern Ireland, setting a record for high-altitude flying. However, the Ruppell’s Griffon, a vulture with a ten-foot wingspan, holds the record for the highest-flying bird in history. Sadly, at 37,900 feet, the bird was drawn into a jet engine. That is over 1.5 miles higher than the top of Mount Everest. The nonprofit Tune In to Nature provides funding and independent production for BirdNote. To learn more, come to BirdNote. org. Im Frank Corrado. ### Musical selection drawn from Symphony 6 Op. 104, by Jean Sibelius; The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra; Executive Producer: Chris Peterson; BIS Producer: John Kessler © 2011 Tune In to Nature org September 2011 Narrator: Frank Corrado.

Birds usually fly relatively low. Most of the year, they stay under 500 feet. However, during migration, birds gain altitude; as a result, many species fly at altitudes of 2,000 to 5,000 feet or higher, aided by the prevailing winds. At roughly 5,000 feet, a bird may start its migration and gradually ascend to 20,000 feet. Birds can fly higher as they become lighter. This Ruppells Griffon set a record flight but was tragically sucked into a jet engine at 37,900 feet. Use the “DONATE” button above to contribute to BirdNote. Thanks!.


How many feet high can a bird fly?

Maximum height
Andean condor
Vultur gryphus
6,500 metres (21,300 feet)
Anas platyrhynchos
6,400 metres (21,000 feet)
Bar-tailed godwit
Limosa lapponica
6,000 metres (20,000 feet)
White stork
Ciconia ciconia
4,800 metres (16,000 feet).