The highest flying bird

The world’s highest flying bird is an Asian goose that can fly up and over the Himalaya in only about eight hours, a new study finds. The bar-headed goose is very pretty, but I guess it doesn’t look like a superathlete.

In 2009, researchers tagged 25 bar-headed geese in India with GPS transmitters. Shortly thereafter, the birds left on their annual spring migration to Mongolia and surrounding areas to breed.

To get there, the geese have to fly over the Himalaya—the world’s tallest mountain range and home to the tallest mountain on Earth, Mount Everest, which rises to 29,035 feet (8,850 meters).

The researchers that found the birds reached a peak height of nearly 21,120 feet (6,437 meters) during their travels. The migration took about two months and covered distances of up to 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers).

The birds made frequent rest stops during the migration, but they appear to have flown over the Himalayan portion of their journey in a single effort that took about eight hours on average and that included little or no rest. A similar intense climb could kill a human without proper acclimatization. Learn more here.


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