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The Fastest Bird

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apepper
32200.  Thu Nov 17, 2005 5:43 pm Reply with quote

I am informed that the fastest bird in level flight is the Eider Duck.

Can anyone confirm or deny?

-Andrew

 
Natalie
32204.  Thu Nov 17, 2005 6:24 pm Reply with quote

If you had 3 of them, then lost one, you'd be an Eider Down.

I'm open to pedanticism.

 
samivel
32206.  Thu Nov 17, 2005 7:12 pm Reply with quote

I think you mean 'pedantry' ;)

 
besty
32257.  Fri Nov 18, 2005 7:58 am Reply with quote

Isn't "pedantry" the underclasses with a cold...?

 
djgordy
32339.  Fri Nov 18, 2005 11:12 am Reply with quote

apepper wrote:
I am informed that the fastest bird in level flight is the Eider Duck.

Can anyone confirm or deny?

-Andrew


I believe that the fastest flying bird is the spine tailed swift which has been clocked at 106mph.

 
eggshaped
32404.  Fri Nov 18, 2005 1:23 pm Reply with quote

The quizzer in me would have immediately said that the swift was the fastest bird in normal flight and that the perigrine falcon is the fastest ever recorded, but this was in a swooping-down type of flight rather than just regular flying.

A cursory google confirms both these facts.

The guinness book of records has this:

Quote:
The fastest dive by a bird was recorded in a series of German experiments, when a peregrine falcon reached a velocity of 270 km/h (168 mph) at a 30-degree angle of stoop, rising to a maximum of 350 km/h (217 mph) at an angle of 45 degrees


NASA's "why files" says:

Quote:
The fastest bird is the spine-tailed swift, which can fly at a top speed of 170 kilometers an hour (106.25 miles per hour)!


However.

While the Falcon speed is undeniable, it is not often used as a "fastest bird" record. For this to be the case, it would need to keep up this pace in horizontal flight.

Moreover, I am unable to find the original source for the swift measurement, and a number of websites call the record "disputed" - swifts, and other sea-birds use wind-currents to reach very high speeds, would it be fair to use wind-assisted speeds? After all, sprinters must not have an assisted wind for their records. Either way, a greater search is required to decide whether this is a reliable fact.

So, where do Eider Ducks come in?

Well, Ducks are certainly strong flyers although they don't always bother with such high speeds.

And even more confusingly the RSPB says this:

Quote:
Eiders have the fastest cruising speed measured for any bird 76kph.

http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds/guide/e/eider/didyouknow.asp
Is it unaware of the swift study? Or does it not count it? Unfortunately there is nothing there but a fact.

So the answer to the original question about the fastest bird is
a) The Perigrine Falcon
b) The spine-tailed swift
or
c) The Eider Duck

depending on who you believe, and how you define "fastest"

Sorry I can't be more specific, but finally I can give you the fact that according to the beeb the Eider is theoretically the fastest.


Quote:
Engineers assessed body size, wingloading and general aerodynamic design and tested several bird models under laboratory conditions. Wildfowl again emerged as potential speed merchants. And the title of hot rod of the air? Because of its concorde-like front end and powerful, ergonomically-shaped wings and body, researchers concluded that, if it wanted to, the humble eider could be the fastest flying bird on the planet.

Eiders, on the other hand, are more interested in using those turbo-changed wings to help them pursue food under water


http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/birds/weeklyfeature/speedofbirds/

 
djgordy
32410.  Fri Nov 18, 2005 1:39 pm Reply with quote

eggshaped wrote:

So, where do Eider Ducks come in?

Well, Ducks are certainly strong flyers although they don't always bother with such high speeds.

And even more confusingly the RSPB says this:

Quote:
Eiders have the fastest cruising speed measured for any bird 76kph.

http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds/guide/e/eider/didyouknow.asp
Is it unaware of the swift study? Or does it not count it? Unfortunately there is nothing there but a fact.


The RSPB covers British birds so perhaps they meant that the eider was simply the fastest British bird. On the other hand, it says 'cruising speed' so perhaps they mean that some birds can go faster over a short distance but can' t sustain it.

 
eggshaped
32435.  Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:39 pm Reply with quote

That's a fair point djgordy, and the eider as the fastest British bird, is something I have read elsewhere.

However, you would expect the RSPB to be less misleading than to say "Eiders have the fastest cruising speed measured for any bird" if it did not believe it to be the case.

 
apepper
32829.  Sun Nov 20, 2005 5:11 am Reply with quote

eggshaped wrote:
That's a fair point djgordy, and the eider as the fastest British bird, is something I have read elsewhere.

However, you would expect the RSPB to be less misleading than to say "Eiders have the fastest cruising speed measured for any bird" if it did not believe it to be the case.


The Eider Duck factoid was given to me during a talk at our camera group, the speaker said that the swift was faster in a dive and looked faster, because it changes direction so quickly, but the Eider is the fastest in level flight. Apparently it uses ground effect by flying close to the surface of water.

Its partly an interesting fact because of another QI fact; "duck" is a funny word throughout the world.

-Andrew

 

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