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Incredible Condor climbed 100 miles without flapping its wings

It turns out that Andean condors don’t have to flap their wings much.

Facundo Vital

Look, ma, no wing flaps.

An Andean condor, one of the largest flying birds in the world, flew 172 kilometers through the air and didn’t bother to flap its wings. This epic example of a flight comes from a team led by researchers from Swansea University in the UK.

The scientists carefully examined the relationship between environmental conditions and the effort that large birds spend on their flights. For this purpose, they attached data recorders to Andean condors, with which they could record every single wing beat and the flight paths of the birds.

The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that Andean condors flap their wings only about 1

% of their flight time. Most of it happened at take-off and when flying near the ground.

The endurance of the condors is impressive, but these heavy birds have to fight their battles when it comes to using energy for wing flaps.

“Our results showed that the amount the birds fluttered did not change significantly with the weather,” said study co-author Hannah Williams from the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior. “This suggests that decisions about when and where to land are crucial, as not only do condors have to take off again, but unnecessary landings also significantly increase their total flight costs.”

The study establishes a link between today’s condors and some extinct giants that “were more like a dragon. “Overall, this can explain how extinct birds with double wingspan could have flown from condors,” the paper suggests.

There could also be some life lessons for people here. You don’t always have to break a sweat. Sometimes the easiest route is the best.

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