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One of the World’s Highest-Flying Birds!

After the nesting season in Central Asia the bar-headed goose migrates south for the winter over the world’s highest peaks into northern India and neighboring countries. There is even an undocumented report of these geese flying over Mount Everest at nearly 30,000 feet.

It is amazing that any bird can fly this high in the thin oxygen poor air given that humans are susceptible to altitude sickness, dizziness and pulmonary edema at these heights. But the bar-headed goose has evolved to survive these high-altitude flights. It has larger proportional lungs than other waterfowl and its hemoglobin is capable of holding greater concentrations of oxygen. It is able to hyperventilate at greater rates than other birds to maximize what little oxygen exists at high altitudes. There are physiological adaptations including greater capillary density to supply oxygen to its muscles.

It is remarkable how the flora (plants) and fauna (animals) adapt to the harshest of conditions given the time of thousands of years of evolution. Unfortunately, due to the rapid changes occurring in today’s environment like climate change, many species will not have the time necessary to adapt to the changes causing them to disappear forever.

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