Top 10 Highest Flying Birds

Migratory birds and birds of prey have been observed flying at incredible heights. The Rüppell’s Vulture has been observed flying at altitudes of up to 37,000 feet. Here is a list of the World’s Highest Flying Birds.

Rüppell's griffon
Rüppell’s griffon

10. White stork – 16,000 feet

White storks (Ciconia ciconia) breed in Europe, southwestern Asia, northern and southern Africa, and the Middle East. The bird migrates from Europe to Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Africa, and the Indian subcontinent during the winter. During such migrations, the white stork avoids the Mediterranean Sea by crossing the Levant. While migrating, the white stork is one of the world’s highest flying birds, reaching altitudes of 4,800 meters (16,000 feet).

9. Bar-tailed godwit – 20,000 feet

The bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica) breeds on the tundra and along the Arctic coasts of Eurasia and spends the winters in Europe, Africa, Asia, and even Australia and New Zealand. The migration of the bar-tailed godwit is unique in that it is the world’s longest non-stop migration of any bird species. It has also set a record for the longest journey without stopping to eat. During its voyage, the bird has been seen soaring as high as 6,000 meters (20,000 ft).

8. Mallard – 21000 feet

The mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), a dabbling duck, lives in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Birds exhibit migratory behavior in the northern portions of their breeding range. Northern North American birds, for example, migrate south to Mexico, and even farther south to Central America and the Caribbean. Mallards have been spotted flying as high as 6,400 meters (21,000 feet).

7. Andean condor – 21,300 feet

The Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) is the world’s biggest flying bird, and it resides in the Andes Mountains of South America. It has a wingspan of 3.3 meters. The species is also one of the world’s highest flying birds, with the ability to soar up to 6,500 meters (21,300 feet) in the air.

6. Bearded vulture – 24,000 feet

The highland bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) is found in Asia, Africa, and Europe. These birds have been seen in the Himalayas, Alps, Pyrenees, Zagros Mountains, Altai Mountains, and other Old World mountain ranges. Bearded vultures prefer high altitudes and are seldom observed below 1,000 meters (3,300 feet). These soaring birds have been seen at elevations of up to 7,300 meters (24,000 feet).

5. Alpine chough – 26,500 feet

The Alpine chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus) is a crow-like species of bird. These birds breed in the highlands of Europe, northern Africa, and Asia. The eggs of these birds are perfectly adapted to the lack of oxygen in the thin atmosphere at high altitudes where the species lives. There have been observations of alpine choughs at heights of 8,000 meters (26,500 feet), flying over the steep Himalayan peaks, including Mount Everest.

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4. Whooper swan – 27,000 feet

Whooper swans (Cygnus cygnus) are magnificent birds with which people build lifetime ties. These birds can be found in marshes across Europe and Asia. They breed in subarctic Eurasia and migrate south to southern Europe, eastern Asia, and, on rare occasions, the Indian subcontinent during the winter. The migration of these birds is highly coordinated, with the birds communicating with one another using a variety of signaling behaviors. Whooper swans are among the leading contenders for the title of highest flying bird in the world. On radar, a flock of these birds was detected flying at 8,200 meters (27,000 feet) above Northern Ireland.

3. Bar-headed goose – 27,825 feet

The Asian bar-headed goose (Anser indicus) resides in high-altitude lakes and feeds on the lake’s short grasses. These birds migrate in a particular fashion. They move over the Himalayas in the winter, from the mountainous regions of Tibet, Mongolia, Russia, and Kazakhstan to the Indian subcontinent. There have been reports of these birds being sighted above Mount Makalu (8,481 m or 27,825 ft) and even Mount Everest (8,481 m or 27,825 ft), the highest mountain on the world.

2. Common crane – 33,000 feet

Grus grus (common crane) breeds in northern Europe and Asia. It spends most of the winter in northern Africa, with some populations also visiting southern Europe, the Indian subcontinent, and eastern Asia. According to accounts, the common crane has been sighted flying at a height of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet) while traversing the Himalayas. The ability of these birds to soar so high helps them avoid predatory eagles.

1. Rüppell’s Griffon Vulture – 37,000 feet

The world’s highest flying bird is the Ruppell’s griffon vulture (Gyps rueppellii). This vulture lives in the Sahel region of central Africa. Sadly, with a population of 30,000, the Rüppell’s griffon vulture is now critically endangered. This species’ population is also steadily declining, and the greatest threats to its survival are elephant poaching and habitat destruction. This highest-flying bird was spotted at an elevation of 11,300 meters (37,000 ft). They use their keen vision to study the land below from great heights, and when they spot food, they swoop down to collect it.

Which Bird Flies the Highest?

The Rüppell’s Vulture has been recorded to fly as high as 37,000 feet. This vulture is located in central Africa’s Sahel area. Unfortunately, with a population of 30,000, the Rüppell’s griffon vulture is today severely endangered.

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