What does a bird in flight mean?

Master of the skies - records from the bird world

The fastest flyers

The fastest bird is the peregrine falcon, which can dive up to 250 kilometers per hour. Its normal speed is between 50 and 160 kilometers per hour.

The high fliers

Most bird species fly about 100 to 2000 meters above sea level. However, migratory birds often even climb to an altitude of 10,000 meters, for example when crossing the Himalayas.

The absolute record measured is 11,000 meters: the sparrow eggs screw themselves up to such heights above their African homeland. It is astonishing that the animals can muster the muscle strength required to fly with the scarce oxygen available there.

The long-haul pilots

The arctic tern is the record holder in long-distance flying: it flies the farthest of all migratory birds. The bird breeds in the Arctic and then flies to Antarctica to hibernate there. The arctic tern covers between 30,000 and 50,000 kilometers there and back. That corresponds to the circumference of the earth.

By the way: There are record-breaking long-haul pilots in the realm of insects too. To get to their winter quarters, monarch butterflies cover more than 3000 kilometers each year. The butterflies, which are only a few centimeters tall, fly from Canada to Central America.

Longest stay in the air

No bird is more persistent in the air than the common swift. In flight he not only gets his food, he can even sleep.

The fastest wing beat

Hummingbirds can flap their wings up to 80 times per second. The petite sunbeam elf, a species of hummingbird, even reaches 200 strokes during courtship flight, which brings it to a top speed of 95 kilometers per hour.

The slowest beat of wings

Vultures can take their time on their outings: To keep their weight in the air, they only have to flap their wings once per second.

The heaviest aviators

With a weight of up to 19 kilograms and a size of over a meter, the African giant bustards are the heaviest birds capable of flying. The great bustards still at home with us also belong to the same weight class. Although the animals can fly well, they prefer to hug the ground when in danger.

The smallest aviator

The bee elf (also: bumblebee hummingbird) from the hummingbird family is the smallest species of bird in the world: the male measures around six centimeters from the tip of the beak to the end of the tail, the female is a little larger. The rare bee elves native to Cuba weigh about two grams.

The largest wingspan

With a wingspan of up to 3.6 meters, the wandering albatross is the frontrunner among birds. The sea bird can be found as a glider pilot over the southern oceans.