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View Full Version : How many miles can a bird of prey travel in a day?


Canotila
03-08-2010, 10:15 AM
If a large raptor, like an eagle, owl, or hawk, was to get some good winds and travel at high altitude, how many miles could one reasonably travel in a day?

I tried googling it and got a lot of conflicting information. If anybody knows of any tagging studies that show how far/fast they can go I'd really appreciate it. That, or websites with reliable documented sources.

SirOtter
03-08-2010, 12:41 PM
Is it carrying a coconut? ;)

I have no idea, just couldn't resist the Monty Python reference.

Fenika
03-08-2010, 06:08 PM
If they get up to the currents, they can just cut across effortlessly.

I used to have some numbers for you. One rehabber went to great effort to pick out a new release sight for an eagle/hawk only to have someone spot the bird at the original site later that day. *snickers*

Short answer: Far. Like a fraction of the US far.

A university prof might have an answer for you. Or a hawker or a rehabber...

alleycat
03-08-2010, 06:13 PM
Ask Libbie. She's a falconer.

Here's her profile page: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?u=14756

RJK
03-09-2010, 06:17 PM
I attended a presentation about eagles (about a hundred years ago). The speaker said they were capable of crossing the Atlantic. I don't think they could do that in a day, but it's still quite a feat.

PeterL
03-09-2010, 10:57 PM
Most raptors don't fly all that fast most of the time; although they can dive at high speed, and they can fly fast for short distances. They can easily soar with the currents, so they could fly faster that the currents. If one found a current that was moving 50 MPH, then it could go 1299 miles in a day, or somewhat more.

Canotila
03-09-2010, 11:57 PM
Holy cow! 1200 miles? That's incredible. Thank you so much everybody, you've all given me some good leads to keep researching. And wow, I wouldn't have guessed one could travel that far so quickly. I guess on a current they aren't using much energy to move around. One of my friends breeds homing pigeons and he sold a pair to someone that lived 110 miles away. The guy drove to get them, and didn't heed my friend's advice to keep them locked up.

They pigeons showed back up at my friend's house 4 hours after the guy left the driveway, and it was a 2 hour drive for the guy to get home. Those are just pigeons though, and I didn't know if birds could sustain that pace for an entire day.

PeterL
03-10-2010, 01:04 AM
Please note that I said that the raptor was soaring in a mass of air that was moving. On the other hand, most birds can fly in the range of twenty to thirty five miles per hour. Falcons have been timed diving for prey at about 200 MPH. Soaring eagles in an updraft can be barely moving. I have seen gulls flying stationary. There's a huge amount of variation.


Supercharged swifts take flight speed record
The swift (Apus apus) can power itself to a speed of 111.6km/h (69.3mph) flying horizontally and even upwards.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8539000/8539383.stm

I guess that's why they're called swifts.

Collectonian
03-10-2010, 06:26 AM
Your best bet might be to ask one of the migration tracking societies for the specific type of bird you are interested in.

Brutal Mustang
03-10-2010, 06:44 AM
One rehabber went to great effort to pick out a new release sight for an eagle/hawk only to have someone spot the bird at the original site later that day. *snickers*

Slightly OT, but reminds me of the time my dad had me drive one of his Birmingham roller pigeon culls 14 miles away to release. Damn bird beat me back home!

Canotila
03-10-2010, 11:04 AM
Please note that I said that the raptor was soaring in a mass of air that was moving. On the other hand, most birds can fly in the range of twenty to thirty five miles per hour. Falcons have been timed diving for prey at about 200 MPH. Soaring eagles in an updraft can be barely moving. I have seen gulls flying stationary. There's a huge amount of variation.


Supercharged swifts take flight speed record
The swift (Apus apus) can power itself to a speed of 111.6km/h (69.3mph) flying horizontally and even upwards.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8539000/8539383.stm

I guess that's why they're called swifts.

No worries, I was looking for an ideal situation with the currents moving just right. Maybe ahead of a storm front heading the direction the bird wanted to go or something like that.

I'm writing a fantasy which has some creatures that are most comparable to our large birds of prey, so was hoping to get some real life basis for their movement capabilities.

Thank you again everyone, this really helps a lot.

PeterL
03-10-2010, 06:01 PM
OK, that makes sense.

Evaine
03-12-2010, 12:35 AM
Just wanted to share - some years ago I read an account of some people who were keeping a watch on a peregrine falcon's nest somewhere in the South of England. They were trying to make sure that egg collectors didn't steal the eggs. The female bird died before the eggs hatched, and they saw the male bird fly away. They thought that would be the end of that - but the male bird returned with a female bird, before the eggs got too cold to survive, and she started to sit, and successfully hatched out the eggs.
When they were able to check, they found that the ring on the female bird's leg was put on in Scotland.
So the male had flown to Scotland, found a willing girl, and brought her back, all in the space of about half a day!

WriteKnight
03-12-2010, 03:05 AM
Far. Really FAR.

In 'human' terms.

Flight is an amazing capability. Those of us bound to travel by walking or even driving forget how much faster flight is - in terms of covering straight line distance. There's a reason the expresion 'As the crow flies' was used. It's a straight line distance - unimpeded.

Speaking as a sailplane pilot - I've soared with raptors in thermals a mile high.

Now then, raptors are territorial, and usually spend all their time and energy in their particular territory - once its established. But in your fantasy novel, a soaring raptor like creature could move as fast as an air mass was moving. Additionally if your world has some sort of coastline with a cliff face - then the bird could 'surf' the cliff face for as long as it exists. An imaginary coastline that is three thousand miles long for instance, with an 'onshore breeze' - even a mild one - would present a standing wave of air that the bird. (Raptor, gull, pelican - whatever) could likely 'surf' the entire length with VERY little effort.

Fenika
03-13-2010, 03:47 AM
Oh yes, 'surfing' updrafts. It doesn't just have to be a ocean/cliff. A big ditch on the side of the road provides a pretty handy updraft when you're a raptor, along with natural formations.