There are many different types of birds in the world, but not all of them are known for their flying abilities. Some birds can barely get off the ground! However, there are a few species out there that have mastered the art of flight and can soar to great heights.
Here are the top 12 highest flying birds in the world.
Top 12 Highest Flying Birds In The World
1. Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture – 37,000 feet
With a wingspan of up to 8-foot (2.5 meters), the Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture is the highest flying bird in the world, with a recorded flight altitude of 37,000 feet. This massive bird has a light brown body with a white head and neck. The Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture can be distinguished from other vultures by its long, curved beak and bare head, which is sometimes pinkish.
This majestic bird is native to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, where it can be found soaring above mountains and deserts. The Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture gets its name from German explorer and naturalist Eduard Ruppell, who was the first to document the bird in the 19th century.
The Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture spends most of its time soaring high above the ground in search of food. This vulture species primarily feeds on the carcasses of dead animals, although it will also eat live prey if given the opportunity. It has excellent eyesight, which it uses to spot potential meals from great distances.
The Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture is an important part of the ecosystem in its native habitat, as it helps to keep populations of smaller animals in check by scavenging on carcasses. This vulture species is, unfortunately, declining in numbers due to several threats, including habitat loss, poisoning, and hunting.
See Also: Exploring The Science Of Bird Flight: Can Birds Fly Indefinitely?
2. Crane – 33,000 feet
The crane is a large bird of prey, with a wingspan of 1.65 to 2.30 m (5 ft 5 into 7 ft 7 in), and is the second-highest flying bird ever recorded. They are known for their graceful flight and long necks, which they use to scan the ground for food. Cranes are found in wetland habitats all over the world, and their populations are currently stable. However, they are threatened by habitat loss and hunting, and their populations are declining in some areas.
These birds are omnivores, and their diet consists of both plants and animals. Some of the things that they eat include berries, insects, fish, and small mammals. Their long necks and legs help them to reach food that other animals can’t get to.
3. Bar-headed Goose – 29,000 feet
The bar-headed goose is capable of reaching altitudes of 29,000 feet! That’s higher than Mount Everest! These amazing birds have a special adaptation that allows them to fly at such high altitudes. Their hemoglobin can bind more oxygen than other birds, allowing them to fly for long periods without getting tired. When you see a bar-headed goose flying high in the sky, you’re seeing one of nature’s true marvels.
These geese are also known for their striking appearance. They have a black body with white bars running across their necks. Their heads are generally light blue color. If you’re lucky enough to see one of these birds in person, you’ll never forget it!
4. Whooper Swan – 27,000 feet
The Whooper Swan is the largest member of the waterfowl family. It is native to North America and Europe, and it has the longest neck and legs of any swan. The whooper swan is also one of the heaviest flying birds, with a wingspan of up to 3.1 meters (10 feet) and a weight of up to 15 kilograms (33 pounds). Its powerful wings allow it to reach altitudes of up to 27,000 feet (8,000 meters), making it one of the highest-flying birds in the world. The whooper swan is a protected species in many countries, and its populations are slowly increasing.
The calls of whooper swans are loud and somewhat musical, the cry generally being given as a loud trumpeting honk. Both sexes give this call, although it is more often given by males. Whooper swans can live for 20–30 years in the wild; the oldest recorded was a female captured wild in Norway in 1935 which died in captivity in 1985.
5. Alpine Chough – 26,500 feet
There are few creatures on Earth as tough as the alpine chough. This member of the crow family is native to high mountain regions and has been known to nest on ledges and in crevices at altitudes of up to 26,500 feet.
The alpine chough has several adaptations that enable it to survive in such extreme conditions. For example, its feathers are specially adapted to insulate it against the cold and its beak is curved to help it scoop up snow to drink.
But the alpine chough’s most impressive adaptation is its ability to fly at high altitudes. Thanks to its strong wings, the alpine chough can fly above the clouds and even catch a glimpse of the summit of Mount Everest.
6. Bearded Vulture – 24,000 feet
The bearded vulture is the world’s highest-flying bird. It has been known to soar to altitudes of 24,000 feet! That’s higher than Mount Everest! The bearded vulture is also one of the heaviest flying birds. It weighs up to 20 pounds!
The bearded vulture is a large bird of prey. It has a wingspan of up to 10 feet! The bearded vulture is mostly black with a white head and neck. It has a long, curved beak. The bearded vulture gets its name from the tufts of feathers on its chin, which look like a beard.
The bearded vulture is found in the mountains of Europe, Asia, and Africa. It nests on cliffs. The bearded vulture eats bones. It drops bones from a great height onto rocks to break them open. Then it eats the marrow inside the bones.
7. Mallard – 21,000 feet
The mallard is known to be able to fly at altitudes of up to 21,000 feet. This is an impressive feat for a bird that is not built for long-distance flying. The mallard’s wings are relatively short and stubby, and its body is not designed for extended periods of flying. However, the mallard is an expert at using updrafts and thermals to stay aloft for long periods.
The mallard’s ability to fly at high altitudes is an adaptation that has helped the species survive in a wide range of habitats. By being able to fly high above the ground, the mallard can avoid predators and find food sources that other birds cannot reach. In addition, the mallard’s migration patterns are largely dictated by the availability of thermals and updrafts. By flying at high altitudes, the mallard can take advantage of these weather patterns to travel long distances with relatively little effort.
8. Bar-tailed Godwit – 20,000 feet
The bar-tailed godwit is the undisputed champion of high-flying birds. This intrepid migrant can travel up to 20,000 feet in the air – that’s about four miles! This record-breaking feat was recorded by satellite tracking of a bird making the nonstop journey from Alaska to New Zealand, a distance of over 7,000 miles.
So how does the bar-tailed godwit manage to fly so high? Well, it’s thought that the bird uses a combination of thermal currents and flapping to reach such great heights. And it’s not just a one-off – these birds are known to make regular flights at high altitudes, which is pretty impressive when you consider that most commercial airplanes don’t fly much higher than 30,000 feet!
9. White Stork – 16,000 feet
The white stork is the ninth-highest flying bird in the world, with a recorded altitude of 16,000 feet. This massive bird has a wingspan of over 11 feet and can weigh up to 30 pounds.
The white stork is a large bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. Its plumage is mainly white, with black on its wings. Adults have long red legs and bills and measure on average 100–115 cm from bill to tail. The body mass of males is typically between 4,000 and 6,000 g, and of females is 4,000 to 5,000 g.
The white stork breeds in temperate Europe, Northwest Africa, and Southwest Asia. Its typical breeding habitat is open farmland. It builds a platform nest of sticks in trees, on buildings, or cliffs. Usually, four eggs are laid. Both parents help to incubate the eggs and feed the young. It is a long-distance migrant, wintering mainly in Africa, but also in Southern Europe and occasionally in Southern Asia.
10. Andean Condor – 15,000 feet
The Andean Condor is the world’s largest flying bird by combined measurement of weight and wingspan, with a weight of 15 kg (33 lb) and a wingspan of up to 10 feet. They are native to the mountains of South America, where they can be found soaring on thermals at altitudes of up to 15,000 feet. These majestic birds are scavengers, and often follow vultures to find food. They have been known to live for up to 70 years in captivity, making them one of the longest-lived birds in the world.
11: Greater White Fronted Goose – 20,000 feet
The Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) is a species of goose that is widely distributed across the northern regions of the globe. It is known for its long migratory flights, which can take it over great distances and to high altitudes.
The Greater White-fronted Goose is a medium-sized goose, with a distinctive white band around its bill and a brownish-gray body. It has a wingspan of around 150-165 cm (59-65 inches) and can weigh up to 2.7 kg (6 pounds). The species is an omnivore, feeding on a variety of plant and animal matter, including grasses, sedges, roots, and insects.
During migration, Greater White-fronted Geese are known to fly at high altitudes, sometimes up to 6,100 meters (20,000 feet) above sea level. This is thought to be an adaptation to avoid adverse weather conditions and to take advantage of favorable tailwinds. The birds also fly in a characteristic V-formation, which is believed to help reduce wind resistance and conserve energy.
Greater White-fronted Geese breed in the Arctic tundra, and migrate south to wintering areas in North America, Europe, and Asia. They are considered to be a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with a stable population estimated at around 5 million individuals worldwide. However, some local populations have experienced declines due to habitat loss and hunting pressures.
12: Common Swift – 21,300 feet
These birds are renowned for their aerial agility and are capable of flying at high altitudes. They have been recorded flying at heights of up to 6,500 meters (21,300 feet).
Common Swifts are also known for spending most of their lives in the air, and are even able to sleep while flying.
Final Thoughts On The World’s Highest Flying Birds
Birds are amazing creatures, and their ability to fly is one of the things that makes them so special. Flight allows birds to escape predators, find food, and migrate to new locations. It also gives them a unique perspective on the world. For birds, the flight is essential to their survival.
FAQs About High Flying Birds
Which bird can fly very high in the sky?
The mighty Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture soars through the sky at 37,000 feet with great grace and power, making it one of the highest-flying birds in the world.
How high can most birds fly?
The altitude at which most birds can fly varies widely depending on their size, weight, and physiology. However, on average, birds can typically fly at heights ranging from a few hundred feet to a few thousand feet, with some exceptions such as the bar-headed goose, which can fly over the Himalayan Mountains at heights exceeding 29,000 feet.
Can birds fly 10,000 feet?
Yes, some birds are capable of flying at heights of 10,000 feet or even higher. For example, the bald eagle, which is known for its impressive soaring ability, can fly at heights exceeding 10,000 feet. Other birds such as vultures and cranes are also known to fly at similar heights.
How high can an Eagle fly?
Eagles are known for their impressive flying abilities and can fly at varying altitudes depending on the species. For example, bald eagles can fly at heights exceeding 10,000 feet, while the golden eagle, which is one of the highest-flying birds, has been recorded flying at heights of up to 20,000 feet.