There are so many amazing things in and about our world that it can often feel overwhelming to even think about learning them all.
That said, you might as well keep taking knowledge bites when you find them, right?
I hope you’re in, because we’ve got some pretty interesting tidbits about the Andean condor for you today.
The Andean condor is the largest flying bird in the world. It weighs around 33 pounds, and keeps its heavy body in the air with some of the longest wings in the world.
It joins just a handful of other birds known as pelagic seabirds – birds that soar over the open ocean for months at a time. Others in this classification are the albatross, petrels, and shearwaters, all of which have larger wingspans.
For a bird the size of a condor, getting off the ground is harder than staying in the air – they don’t flap their wings so much as soar on air currents, surveying the ground for carrion to eat – but a study published in 2020 still dropped some jaws.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, they don’t just flap their wings rarely – they almost never flap their wings.
Flapping only accounts for around 1% of their total flight time, which means an Andean condor can fly five hours, and cover more than 100 miles, without flapping them at all. Weather doesn’t affect how they fly, and study coauthor Hannah Williams says the research is very telling as far as how much energy it requires just for the bird to get into the air.
“This suggests that decisions about when and where to land are crucial, as not only do condors need to be able to take off again, but unnecessary landings will add significantly to their overall flight costs.”
The outcome of the research is scientists understanding that Andean condors use thermals – invisible patterns and bubbles of air moving all around the atmosphere – to their advantage far better than previously thought.
Amazing, isn’t it? We can be awed even by birds whose job it is to clean up the dead things that litter the earth.
I mean, we can if we let ourselves.
Let’s do that.