New research reveals how the world’s heaviest soaring birds can stay for hours and rides air current without flapping its wings. The heaviest soaring birds in the world are Andean Condors that weigh about 16 kilos (or 35 pounds). According to the Research, the sky is very much the limit when it comes to keeping these heavy bodies aloft.
South American condors, also known as Vultur gryphus has difficulty getting off the ground. But, researchers have found that once they get to the air, they barely ever flap their wings. Instead, mostly on thermal updrafts and winds, they glide, soaring for up to 99 percent of their flight time. Researchers by attaching bio-logging devices, or daily diaries, to eight juvenile condors, gained cataloged flight time of more than 230 hours. Interestingly, they used only one percent of the time flapping and that too most of them for taking off.
The author wrote that there were no adult birds in which the extraordinary low investment in flapping flight was seen and the same happened to be seen in all individuals. One young condor covered over 170 km (100 miles) by using air currents only without beating its wings once.
David Lentink who is not related to the research and is an expert in bird flight from Stanford University stated, “The finding that [Andean condors] basically almost never beat their wings and just soar is mind-blowing.” Emily Shepard from Swansea University, a Biologist said if the conditions are right, Human glider pilots can soar all-day. So it is not surprising in some sense regarding the performance of the Condor. However, glider pilots decide about flying after looking at the weather.
The condors are also selective about their landing as it requires finesse for them to land and a lot of energy to take off.