Tuesday, August 7, 2018

High High in the Sky

In Sweden's Lund University scientist conducted research on two birds the Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) and the Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio) to measure the acceleration, barometric pressure, and temperature as they migrate from Sweden to Africa.

They found that these Small birds both flew at higher then expected altitudes, almost 4,000 meters in the air. The Great Reed Warbler at top high flew at 3,950 meters and Red-backed Shrike at 3,650 meters. These are values that shocked the scientists.

"It is fascinating and it raises new questions about the physiology of birds. How do they cope wih the air pressure, thin air and low temperatures at these hights?," says Sissel Sjoberg, biologist at lund university and the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen. (1)

SIssel Sjoberg hypothesizes that other smaller birds also fly at these extreme heights, and may even fly higher when they migrate back during the spring. These birds are no taller then a Budgie, they amount of specialization and evolution that went down to allow for their tiny bodies to withstand such forces amazes me. It does not seem possible but this new information has given rise to more questions.

1- https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180806104250.htm
2- https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jav.01821

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