A High-Flying Bird

As humans, we usually think that most birds fly pretty high. But when you actually find out how high some of these birds really fly, you would be astounded. The bar-headed goose is one of world’s highest flying bird. These birds have been spotted flying over impressive heights such as Mount Everest (29,029 feet!) and Mount Makalu (27,825 feet!). When migrating, these birds are known for flying at these impressive heights for over eight hours straight.

They impressively complete their ascent with their own muscularity, and with little-to-no help from updrafts or tailwinds. Unlike other birds who use wind and drafts to help them glide, the bar-headed goose in-fact reaches its altitude with vigorous flapping. The amount of work they do when ascending is quite fascinating, and also seems impossible for such a small bird. These birds have more capillaries and red blood cells than the average bird, which ultimately helps oxygen reach their muscles much quicker. Another trait that contributes to their high-altitude ascension is their hyperventilation. This bird is able to breathe in and breathe out very quickly without getting dizzy or losing consciousness (as humans would).


These birds choose to fly at night when migrating, which makes sense because that is when high winds are mostly absent. This goes to show the intelligence and strategical thinking that the bar-headed goose has. If you are ever climbing a high mountain, or near a place with high altitude (make sure you have binoculars), look for the birds light brown color with a black and white-striped head tagged with a very yellow beak. And if you don’t have your binoculars, LISTEN, because these birds honk very loudly when migrating.



Ryan Erf posted on October 16, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Just a note, the highest flying bird is the Ruppell’s Vulture Griffon that lives in central Africa. It was spotted at nearly 37,000 feet and was recorded colliding with a jet airliner at cruising altitude. http://www.theanimalfiles.com/birds/birds_of_prey/vulture_ruppells.html


Lorena Barba posted on October 17, 2011 at 8:34 pm

So, the density of air at 30,000 feet (9,000 m) is 26 times less than at sea level, according to this website …
… SO, this little guy has to fly about 5 times faster at that altitude, if my calculations are correct. Check it out.