Highest Flying Bird
How high can birds fly? What is the highest flying bird?
The highest-flying bird ever recorded was a Ruppell's griffon, a vulture
with a wingspan of about 10 feet; on November 29, 1975, a Ruppell's griffon
was sucked into a jet engine 37,900 feet above the Ivory Coast--more than a
mile and a half higher than the summit of Mount Everest. The plane was
damaged, though it landed safely.
Details are at:
The Birdwatcher's Companion, C. Leahy, ed., a thorough but dated
(1982) reference lists an airplane collision with a Ruppell's Griffon
Vulture at 37,000 feet as the highest recorded. 21,000 feet by both a
mallard and smaller land bird migrants were the North American records
at that time. Altitude is deceptive, since a bird at an impressive
10,000 feet at sea level is flying "lower" than a bird a few hundred
feet above the ground on high mountains.
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Update: June 2012