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9 birds that set records for their amazing flights

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on June 5, 2014, 11:24 a.m.
alpine swift

Photo: Richard Crossley/Wikipedia CC

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Longest time spent in continuous flight: Alpine swift

For birds that spend the most time in the air during their lives, the record goes to the Alpine swift. This incredible species spends over 200 consecutive days a year in the air during its migration from breeding grounds in Switzerland to wintering grounds in Western Africa, where it stays in flight the entire season then returns. To discover the flight durations, researchers put special tags on six birds to measure their speed, and found that they were flapping or gliding the entire migration time. The only time these birds "rest" is during the breeding period in Switzerland. For the full remainder of the year, they feed, drink and sleep while on the wing. Until this research, only marine animals were thought to have such a high level of continuous movement.