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The Andean Condor flew 100 miles without flapping its wings



An Andean condor.

An Andean condor.
image:: Facundo Vital

The largest soaring bird in the world – the Andean Condor – can stay in the air for 5 hours and cover more than 100 miles of real estate without fluttering Wing, according to new research.

From a weight of 15 kg and with a span Reach 10 feet (3 meters), Andean condors are a physically impressive species. New research This week, published in the National Academy of Sciences’ Proceedings magazine, shows how dramatically these scavengers can stay in the air and save energy by patiently searching for carrion on the ground.

Andean condors glide from one air flow to the next and spend almost everything According to the new study, co-authored by Swansea University biologist Emily Shepard, they fluttered their wings only 1.3% of the time.

Andean condors in flight.

Andean condors in flight.
image:: Alvaro Moya Riffo

From 2013 to 2018, Shepard and her colleagues chased eight Andean condors near Bariloche, Argentina, by attaching flight recorders that could record every wingbeat of the birds in flight. The purpose of this exercise was to measure the effects of different weather conditions on the condor flight. Overall, the scientists managed to record around 250 hours of data.

In the most extreme example, an Andean condor spent five hours in the air without fluttering. During this time the bird covered 172 km. David Lentink, a Stanford University biologist who was not involved in the new study, described the results as “stunning” as he was told The guard.

As the data showed, around 75% of the flutter that occurred occurred as Condors took off. This indicates great physical costs for the birds and a good reason for them to avoid unnecessary landings and takeoffs.

“Soaring birds fly in weather conditions that allow them to stay in the air with a minimum of movement costs, but there are times when these birds have to resort to an extremely expensive flight,” said Hannah Williams, co-author of the study and a Postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior, in a Press release.

These almost flip-up flight sessions took place when the conditions were both calm and windy, but fluttering occurred more frequently in the early morning when gusts of warm wind or thermal winds started to form and rose very slowly.

“Our results suggest that decisions during the flight, when and where to land and when to move between the air currents are of crucial importance, since not only condors have to take off after landing, but unnecessary landings significantly increase their overall flight improve costs, ”said Williams.

With a view to the future, the researchers want to understand the decision-making process of the condors during the flight and how they can jump from one thermal updraft to another so effortlessly. At the same time, the new research could explain how early bird dinosaurs like Archeopteryx, which were also quite large, could have flown without consuming too much energy.


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