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Questions My Grandchildren Asked Me - How Far and Fast Do Birds Fly?

Updated on May 20, 2019
Crowned Eagle- Gubu Dam, Stutterheim
Crowned Eagle- Gubu Dam, Stutterheim | Source
Florida | Source
Birds on the move
Birds on the move | Source
Ostriches in Karoo, South Africa.
Ostriches in Karoo, South Africa. | Source

How fast and far do birds fly?

Questions my grandkids asked me. No 6

“Very fast and very far” is the obvious answer, but like all simple questions the answer is not always quite so easy. Birds fly in many different ways and for many different reasons. Some fly looking for food while others fly to migrate. Some fly to get away from danger while others spend years flying without landing. Swifts may spend years flying before they land for the first time to lay eggs and produce chicks. Their feet in fact are not develloped to allow them to perch so the only time they do not fly is when they are in their nests..

It is estimated that on average birds fly at about 30 km an hour. When a Peregrine Falcon dives to catch another bird (it normally feeds on pigeons or doves that it catches “on the wing”) it flies at the amazing speed of over 200 km per hour. The Arctic Tern flies for about 8 months of the year as it migrates from Northern to Southern Polar Regions and back again. Some birds migrate between Europe and South Africa and have been recorded to have done a distance of 13 000 km in just three weeks. Often they use high upper level winds to help them along the way. Obviously they sleep as they fly.

The birds that are the fasted fliers on a level plane are Ducks, Geese and Swifts, who can fly at about 80 km per hour.

Some birds like the South African Ostrich cannot fly and have to get where they are going by foot. Their feet are also important weapons that are capable of killing a person. Birds can in fact run very fast and some even have a name that refers to that fact like the Road Runner in the USA.


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