Andean Condors Can Soar Without Flapping Their Wings


The Andean Condor Can Soar 100 Miles Without Flapping

Alex Fox/

In the high, arid mountains of Patagonia, an Andean condor managed to travel more than 100 miles without flapping its wings once. This five-hour ultramarathon flight was recorded during a new study of the massive scavenger’s hyper-efficient flight, reports Christina Larson for the Associated Press.

All that efficiency is in the service of keeping all 33 pounds of the world’s heaviest soaring bird aloft. The researchers found that the massive scavengers use their ten-foot wingspans to strategically surf currents of rising air called thermals to reduce costly flapping to the bare minimum. Tiny sensors attached to eight condors revealed that across more than 250 hours in the air the birds spent just one-percent of their flight time flapping.

The study, published this week in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also found that getting airborne in the first place accounted for a full three-quarters of the condors’ flapping, reports BBC News. The condors in the study spent around three hours a day in the air searching the Andes and their foothills for carcasses to feed on, according to the paper.

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  1. Take a good look at the airfoil shape and thickness. This is not F-15 but more B52. Notice the raised tip feathers to stop ‘bleed air’ from slipping longitudinally along wing and keeping it trapped to flow across wing increasing lift. A design used on modern airliners with their winglets. I am not a Christian but it is obvious this is engineered.

  2. Amazing birds! Their California cousins are slightly lighter with wing-span of 9 feet. Mother Gaya’s cleaning agents sure come with the most aerodynamic pair of wings. Their thermal seeking abilities along with innate cross-country navigation skills using an efficient lift-to-drag ratios enable these magnificent birds cover 100s of miles for food without flapping their wings.

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