These ducks can reach a height of almost seven kilometers

These ducks can reach a height of almost seven kilometers

The Ruddy shelducks (cinnamon jar in the scientific name in Spanish) nest in the Himalayas, however they spend their winters at sea level south of the Tibetan plateau. To do this, they must take flight to a height of 6,800 meters , where oxygen levels are much lower.

Scientists at the University of Exeter used satellite tracking to discover that they were flying through valleys, avoiding massive peaks like Mount Everest.

High-flying duck

As lead researcher Nicole Parr of the Center for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall explains :

This species has probably evolved a series of adaptations to be able to cope with flying so high, where oxygen levels are half those of sea level. We do not yet know the nature of these adaptations. Our research also shows that the ruddy shelduck has a faster climb rate than the barrelhead goose, the only water bird known to fly even higher.

As published in the Journal of Avian Biolog , the researchers used satellite data collected from 15 Ruddy shelducks from two populations that spend their winter south of the Tibetan plateau.