Bird Flight

Cloud-gliding frigate birds

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Science  01 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6294, pp. 39
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6294.39-h

Frigate birds are among the highest fliers in the avian world. Wiermirskirch et al. show that great frigate birds stay aloft for months at a time, using a variety of strategies that take advantage of atmospheric conditions (see the Perspective by Huey and Deutsch). Locally, they exploit uplift and favorable winds, but for long-distance transoceanic travel, frigate birds fly up to 4000 m to exploit low-pressure conditions within clouds for gliding. Understanding the strategies of these impressive voyagers increases our understanding of long-distance migration and our appreciation for the extremes that flight adaptations can reach.

Science, this issue p. 74 see also p. 26

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