how fast can birds fly

Birds by flying speed edit

  • During an Antarctic storm, maintaining a constant ground speed for roughly nine hours without stopping due to strong tailwinds
  • The BBC advises against placing too much stock in this value because the procedures used to calculate it have never been made public, making it difficult to verify. [citation needed] .

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.


How many mph do birds fly?

Generally birds follow the facetious advice often given to pilots — “fly low and slow.” Most cruise speeds are in the 20-to-30-mph range, with an eider duck having the fastest accurately clocked air speed of about 47 mph.

What bird can fly 100 mph?

Studies have clocked an Indian bird, the spine-tailed swift, at over 100 miles (160 km) per hour. Visit The Travel Almanac to see more of the world’s fastest birds while traveling at level flight. The fastest bird – or animal – in a dive is the Peregrine falcon.

What bird can fly 300 mph?

The peregrine falcon is best known for its diving speed during flight—which can reach more than 300 km (186 miles) per hour—making it not only the world’s fastest bird but also the world’s fastest animal. Coloration is a bluish gray above, with black bars on the white to yellowish white underparts.

What bird can fly the fastest for the longest?

The Bar-tailed Godwit has an even more impressive record. A Bar-tailed Godwit flew 12,000 kilometers non-stop across the Pacific Ocean from its breeding grounds in Alaska to its wintering spot in New Zealand in 11 days. Its average speed enroute was about 45 km/h.