Bird flight without flapping? Yep, it’s possible. A new study shows Andean condors surf air 99% of the time.
God made the world’s largest soaring bird surprisingly efficient. “Condors are expert pilots—but we just hadn’t expected they would be quite so expert,” says Emily Shepard, study co-author and biologist at Swansea University in Wales. Condors clean up carrion from the Patagonia plateau in South America. But these effective waste disposers are also proficient fliers. They use air currents to stay aloft for hours without flapping their wings.
The Andean condor has a wingspan stretching to 10 feet and weighs up to 33 pounds, making it the heaviest soaring bird alive today.
For the first time, a team of scientists strapped recording equipment they called “daily diaries” to eight condors in Patagonia. The devices recorded each wingbeat over more than 250 hours of flight time.
Incredibly, the birds spent just 1% of their time aloft flapping their wings. What little flapping they did occurred mostly during takeoff. One bird flew more than five hours, covering over 100 miles, without flapping its wings even once.
“The finding that they basically almost never beat their wings and just soar is mind-blowing,” says David Lentink, an expert in bird flight at Stanford University.
To birds, the sky is not empty. It’s a landscape of invisible features—wind gusts, currents of warm rising air, and streams of air pushed upward by ground features such as mountains.
Riding air currents allows some birds to travel long distances while minimizing the exertion of beating their wings.
Scientists who study flying animals generally consider two types of flight: flapping flight and soaring flight. The difference? Flapping can be compared to peddling a bicycle uphill. Soaring is like coasting downhill.
Past studies have shown that white storks and osprey flap for 17% and 25% of their overland migratory flights, respectively.
The Andean condor’s extreme skill at soaring is essential for its scavenger lifestyle. Condors must spend hours each day circling high mountains looking for a meal of dead animal. A circling condor is using rising warm air gusts to move.
The recording devices were programmed to fall off the birds after about a week. Retrieving them wasn’t so easy. “Sometimes the devices dropped off into nests on huge cliffs in the middle of the Andes Mountains, and we needed three days just to get there,” says biologist and study co-author Sergio Lambertucci.
They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. — Isaiah 40:31
that is a lot of soaring WITHOUT EVEN FLAPPING ONCE!!!!
L.H here, Can you imagein flying 100 miles with out a flap? l sure wish l could do that!
Can you imagine having a birds eye view? even if it was just on camera.
remember the bible says we will soar on wings like eagles... I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!
GODS CREATION IF AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
@Warren C you are so right that is one of my favorite verses! "They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.: Isiah 40:31 (I think that is the correct reference. I am pretty sure it is in 40)
IS not IF
I wonder how they got that
I wonder how they got that picture of the condor.
Oops. I just realized that it is the verse at the end of the article! So sorry! Thats a little embarrassing!
@KN: Maybe from and airplane?
Bird= ohhh I believe that i
Bird= ohhh I believe that i can fly.....the bird actually flys...OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!...unlike..this guy= (Ice age Sid the sloth)= hey guys, look at these new wings i made, now we can fly Manny= sure Sid thats not ganna work..Sid= b-b-but guys of course it will...Sid= oh i believe i an fly...SID falls and hits wall...( roblox sound effect)= OoOoFfF !! LOL XD the end.....XDD
It’s so cool to see the way God created designed every creature uniquely for a specific purpose! Just thought this article was so encouraging during this time in the world. Let’s not lose hope of the joy we’re looking forward to with Christ!
We're not flying, we're falling with style. - Buzz Lightyear
Haha! That was funny. Especially the Roblox sound. Oooooof.
LOL I remember that! " falling in style " xD
All Flight,[Almost] No Flap
Condors are really cool! They're such an incredible example of God's creativity in His work.
That's so cool!
But I wouldn't want to be one of those people who have to go pick up the recording devices. XD
@KN: Probably a drone.
I had recently watched a documentary about these birds and had gotten facanted, in fact most vultures can almost do that. 3 years ago i had gotten into birding and birds so much so i am applying for Cornell early and a degree in ornithology birds are my pursuit i literally love birds. Anyway i found the article very interesting that i had been studying about this bird just yesterday! if you want to look meh up xD that (not that you would) i ll __NOT__ post a link and just say im Owen S on Ebird ( i don't think i should give my full name). any any any anyway i should stop talking about that. I do think the condors are very fascinating since there's only two out there and yes they fly SOOOOO high. (⊙o⊙)
Thrust works the same for people too. Too bad umbrellas don't work the same as wings!
I love birds!!! It is cool to see how God created all these amazing different types of birds!!! Although my favorite bird is the Bald Eagle!!!