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Scientists reveal bird that can fly over a 100 miles without flapping its wings

The research shows that the bird spent only 1 percent of its time flapping its wings.

Scientists reveal bird that can fly over a 100 miles without flapping its wings
Cover image source: Moccas, a one-year-old Andean Condor stretches his 10-foot wings in the sunshine at the ICBP (International Centre for Birds of Prey) on May 16, 2016, in Newent, England (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

When we gaze towards the clouds and see birds gliding gracefully across the sky, it's hard not to be in awe of their remarkable abilities. Among these feathered travelers, 4 species possess the unique talent to soar aloft, flying for hours on end without once flapping their wings—a rare and fascinating phenomenon. According to IFLScience, Andean condors are said to be the world's heaviest soaring birds and are also long-distance travelers and are said to cover almost 100 miles without flapping their wings.

Representative Image Source :
Image Source: "Lesley", a juvenile Andean Condor, takes flight at Taronga Zoo during flying lessons on February 28, 2006, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

This latest claim by scientists has been backed up by an experiment highlighting the special powers of these birds. The experiment conducted by a team from Swansea University and the National University of Comahue tracked eight Andean condors for five years and in the process, fitted them with a GPS device and a recording unit that could log their wingbeats.

Upon thorough research and experiment, the observations showed that the birds spent just 1 percent of their time aloft flapping their wings, mostly during take-off. According to the Guardian, one of the birds flew for over five hours without flapping its wings. It covered more than 100 miles (160 kilometers).

Emily Shepard, a study co-author and biologist at Swansea University in Wales, talked about the incredible features of the bird, saying, "Condors are expert pilots but we just hadn’t expected they would be quite so expert." The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal on Monday. On the other hand, David Lentink, an expert in bird flight at Stanford University who was not involved in the research, said "The finding that they basically almost never beat their wings and just soar is mind-blowing."

Image source: Pexels | Photo by Tim Mossholder
Image source: Pexels | Photo by Tim Mossholder

Simply put, the Andean condor is a vulture with extreme soaring skills, which is crucial for its scavenger lifestyle. Like vultures, it circles high mountains for hours looking for a meal. Sergio Lambertucci, a study co-author and biologist at the National University of Comahue in Argentina, said, "When you see condors circling, they are taking advantage of those thermal uplifts or rising gusts of warm air."


Before concluding the experiment, researchers noticed one thing in particular, the bird's decision-making ability. The experiment shed light on the fact that despite the fact the birds were young, they were well-versed with the flying patterns and as efficient as their older counterparts. 

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