World’s Highest-Flying Birds: These Birds Soar Over Mount Everest

At 29,029 feet (8,848 meters), Mount Everest is the highest peak in the Himalayas and the highest peak above sea level. Every year, thousands of mountain climbers attempt to reach its elusive summit, and many die in the process. This is due a variety of factors, from the freezing cold to the thin air to the unpredictable avalanches.

Even birds, which have thick plumage to deal with the cold and wings to fly above the ice and snow, find the environment inhospitable. But there are a few exceptions. These three birds are just fine above the Himalayas’ inhospitable elevations, and they are among the highest-flying birds in the world.

Check out the 3 highest flying birds that can soar over the tallest mountain in the world…

3. Alpine Chough

Alpine chough - Pyrrhocorax-graculus - Photo by Mathias Bigge
Alpine chough. Photo by Mathias Bigge.

Unlike the other two birds, the alpine chough can’t quite clear Mount Everest, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. While most birds that fly over the Himalayas are migratory, the alpine chough breeds in these hostile elevations.

On Mount Everest, it has been seen as high up as 26,500 feet (8,000 meters), and in the Himalayas in general, it breeds between 3,500–5,000 m (11,500–16,400 ft).

2. Bar-Headed Goose

Bar-headed geese. Photo by Samiran Nandy.
Bar-headed geese. Photo by Samiran Nandy.

Flying at heights up to 8,800 metres (29,000 feet), bar-headed geese can easily clear Mount Everest during their migrations, and they have many adaptations to help them tolerate the thin air.

Unlike other geese, they have a slightly larger wing area for their weight, and the hemoglobin of their blood has a higher affinity for oxygen than low-altitude geese.

1. Common Crane

Common_cranes_before_sunrise - Photo by Вых Пыхманн
Common cranes. Photo by Вых Пыхманн.

Flying at heights up to 33,000 feet (10,000 meters), the common crane is the world’s second highest-flying bird (after Rüppell’s vulture) and can completely clear Mount Everest and the Himalayas. During their migration, they fly high above the Himalayas to avoid dangerous mountain predators such as eagles.

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