Can Birds Fly Above Clouds? (And How High!)

Can birds fly above clouds?

Certain birds are more than capable of flying above clouds including frigate birds and eagles. Common pet birds will refrain from flying near the clouds and maintain a shorter altitude.

Migratory birds are often cited for spending time above the clouds, which can also cause them to become victims of airplane accidents.

It’s recommended to pay attention to the height a bird when it starts ascending as high as possible. The average bird won’t go as high, but do not want to be near the ground as this exposes them. It’s one of the reasons birds are not afraid of heights, but do get afraid of being kept on the ground for long periods.

This exposes them and it leads to a natural instinct such as a human being left at a great height staring down.

The signs of a nervous bird can include:

  • Shivering
  • Refusing to Move
  • Refusing to Eat

When asking questions such as “Can birds fly above the clouds?” it’s best to pinpoint the bird’s size. This is a variable that matters when determining whether or not a bird can fly as high as you expect.

Some birds may look large in size, but don’t end up flying to such heights. It’s often not about capability, but more about not having the need to do so.

This guide will take a look at answering the question, “Can birds fly above the clouds?” along with shedding light on specific birds that can soar to these great heights easily.

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Highest Flying Birds: Can Birds Fly Above Clouds?

1. Ruppell’s Vulture

Part of the Gyps rueppellii species, the Ruppell’s Vulture can soar to tremendous heights. It is noted for reaching up to 37,100 feet without missing a beat.

This allows the Ruppell’s Vulture enough of an opportunity to fly above the clouds when given the chance to do so. They will often do this when traveling great distances.

This bird will commonly settle at great heights (above or below clouds) to maintain a positional advantage when finding prey. This makes it easier to hunt as they have tremendous eyes and can see without missing a beat.

This incredible vision is what allows them to fly uninterrupted while successfully finding food to eat.

The premise of flying at such great heights is not for amusement. It serves a tactical purpose as well. The Ruppell’s Vulture aims to increase its field of vision without having to travel long distances all the time. It’s almost a sign of laziness or optimization when finding prey!

can birds fly above clouds

2. Common Crane

Part of the Grus grus species, the Common Crane is a fascinating bird that can easily get above the cloud cover when given the chance to do so.

It’s noted for traveling up to 33,000 feet into the air and casually spending time at this altitude without breaking a sweat for long periods.

The purpose of flying at such great heights is to stay away from Eagles that hunt in the area. Those Eagles are more than happy to come after the Common Crane.

Since the Common Crane tends to spend most of its time near the mountainous range, it will expect to see Eagles from time to time.

This is a normal part of their habitat.

However, staying above the cloud cover protects them when trying to stay from those higher up in the food chain.

3. Bar-Headed Goose

Part of the Anser indicus species, the Bar-Headed Goose is a mesmerizing species that stands out due to its majestic appearance and incredible flying capability.

This bird can soar up to 29,000 feet into the air while staying at this height for long periods. It is graceful, calm, and does well in all types of conditions.

The reason for taking this flight path has to do with being a migratory species.

This means they need to find warmer conditions during the winter months and will often travel long distances to get to where they need to. As a result, they prefer to fly above the cloud cover.

can birds fly above clouds

4. Whooper Swan

Part of the Cygnus cygnus species, the Whooper Swan is a charming bird that can spend time at a height of 27,000 feet.

It’s important to note, this has only been recorded a few times by scientists and observers. In most cases, this species will not spend as much time above the clouds but may do so from time to time if necessary.

In general, the Whooper Swan will often remain under the clouds while observing what’s going on around them. This allows them to fly easily while still remaining safe.

For the most part, the Whooper Swan is going to settle at a shorter height even when traveling long distances. If they feel unsafe, they will go above the clouds including when the conditions are unpleasant.

This varies from situation to situation.

Final Thoughts

Can birds fly above clouds?

Indeed, many migratory birds can fly above the clouds and do so with a passion. In some cases, predatory birds such as Eagles will also be found spending time at this altitude.

Unfortunately, this also means there are many bird-related accidents that take place between airplanes and birds. It is a fact that tends to happen from time to time as the birds don’t see what’s happening in front of them.

Here is more on birds and bird watching – quality binoculars for bird watching, how to assist parrots in flying, how to stop birds from flying far away, how to keep a bird in your bedroom.