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In the blue skies over the Andes Mountains, Andean Condors look majestic, with a ten-foot wingspan. While flying, according to researchers from Argentina and the UK, Andean Condors only flap one percent of the time. One bird was tracked for more than 100 miles over five flapless hours.
Andean Condors Soar for Hours Without Flapping
Written by Edward Ricciuti
This is BirdNote.
[Andean Condor hisses and raspy sounds, XC53865]
Andean Condors may not sound pretty. But in the blue skies over the Andes, they’re majestic, one with the heavens.
[Strong gusts of wind]
In the glare of a cold sun, white wing bands flash against coal-black plumage. Ten feet from tip to tip, those outstretched wings seem frozen in place, because in flight the condor is almost literally unflappable.
While flying, according to researchers from Argentina and the UK, Andean Condors only flap one percent of the time. They flap to launch their bulky bodies off the ground, but after that, condors cruise effortlessly on their broad, sturdy wings.
Andean Condors use the wind and rising air currents called thermals to sail vast distances. One bird was tracked for more than 100 miles over five flapless hours.
According to the researcher Sergio Lambertucci, the time at the end of glides between thermals is the riskiest part of condors’ flight, because they have to find rising air to avoid an unplanned landing. So they might flap a little then.
But for the most part, condors spend almost no energy as they soar far and wide over towering peaks and endless grasslands.
For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.
Senior Producer: John Kessler
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Managing Editor: Jazzi Johnson
Managing Producer: Conor Gearin
Content Director: Jonese Franklin
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.
Andean Condor Xeno Canto 53865 recorded by Guillermo Egli.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2023 BirdNote August 2023
Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# ANDCON-01-2023-08-11 ANDCON-01