Home / Science / Andean condors can fly more than 100 km without being winged once, researchers reveal

Andean condors can fly more than 100 km without being winged once, researchers reveal



Instead of “flying like an eagle”, it might be “flying like a condor.”

A recently published study states that Andean condors can fly more than 100 km without waving once.

The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, states that birds, which can weigh more than 30 kilograms, are extremely efficient in using their pre-flight and initial flapping when they first start flying. When they reach the height they want, it is relatively stress-free.

The spirit's condor actually flaps its wings for one percent of its flight time.  (Credit: Facundo Vital)

The spirit’s condor actually flaps its wings for one percent of its flight time. (Credit: Facundo Vital)

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“Watching birds from dragons to eagles fly, you might wonder if they ever flap,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Hannah Williams, of the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior, in a statement. “This question is important, because of the time the birds are as big as condors, the theory is that they depend on rising to get around. Our results revealed that the amount of birds that fluttered did not change significantly with the weather.”

“This suggests that deciding when and where to land is crucial, as not only will condors need to be able to take off again, but unnecessary landings will incur significant costs for their total flight costs,” Williams added.

The researchers analyzed data from when the birds began to travel until they reached rising altitude and found that almost 75 percent of the flapping with condors is done during the first start.

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“This is a critical time because birds need to find rising air to avoid an unplanned landing,” adds co-author Dr. Sergio Lambertucci to. “These risks are higher when you move between thermal updates. This is a nice example of where the birds’ behavior can provide insight into the behavior of the air.”

Andean condors are more than 4 meters long when fully grown and have an exceptionally long lifespan and reach up to 75 years in captivity, according to National Geographic. Their diet consists of large animals, both wild and domestic, and they have been known to feed on eggs from other birds.

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