High flyers

Birds are amazing creatures. They not only come in different shapes, sizes, and colours, but did you know that each species also keeps to a specific altitude when in flight? Because of that, there can be millions of birds in the air at any given moment without them colliding. In terms of altitude, the most fascinating birds are the high flyers. Most migrating birds fly between 200 to 1,200 meters above sea level. However, high flyers like bar-headed geese in central Asia regularly cross the Himalayas – the world’s highest mountains.

But in terms of jaw-dropping amazingness, nothing beats the frigate bird. These seagoing fliers with their 6-foot wingspan can stay aloft for weeks at a time. Frigate birds are unique among aquatic birds. Their feathers are not waterproof, so they cannot rest on the waves. However, what blew ornithologists away was their discovery that these tropical birds manage to fly in freezing conditions at a height of up to 4,000 meters. According to an ornithologist, Henri Weimerkirch, no other bird flies so high relative to the sea surface.

How do they do that? Astonishingly, they fly right into those fluffy, white cumulus clouds dreaded by most pilots since they often cause unnerving turbulence and panic amongst passengers. Over the ocean, these clouds tend to form in places where warm air rises from the sea surface. The birds hitch a ride on the updraft, all the way up to the top of the cloud and there these birds, between meals, soar … and soar … and soar. One of the tagged birds soared 64 kilometres without flapping its wings. Several covered more than 480 kilometres a day on average, and flew continuously for weeks.

Earlier this year, we similarly entered a turbulent storm that caused unbelievable turbulence in our lives, and we frantically began to flap our metaphorical wings in an attempt to remain aloft and survive. The more the uncertainty we faced, the greater our anxiety, and the greater our anxiety, the more we flapped our wings. The more we flapped our wings, the more exhausted we became. It is no wonder that there seems to be a general sense of tiredness amongst us at this time of the year, which is different from the usual end-of-year tiredness. It is almost a burn-out tiredness. It is a kind of I’ve-reached-the-end-of-my-tethers tiredness. We are all tired. Tired of flapping. Tired of uncertainty. Tired of making new plans. Tired of political rhetoric and shocking corruption. Tired of trying not to get infected by the virus. Tired of not knowing what the future holds.

Perhaps we can learn from the frigate birds. They fly high. Perhaps we too should consider flying at a different altitude. Zoom out. Fly higher. Pay closer attention to what we are focusing on. Be mindful of what kind of energy we expose ourselves to. Switch of the television. Go on a social media fast. Spend time in nature. Walk the dog. Tell those we care for that we love them. In short, leave behind the noise, negativity, and animosity. Fly higher.

Frigate birds ride the storm. They soar. Once they`ve reached the required altitude, they spread their wings, relax and surrender to this atmospheric roller coaster in the clouds allowing it to carry them to new destinations. Now is a good time to remember we are high flyers by design. No need to fear the storm. No need to flap. This storm is taking us exactly where we need to be. Let us listen to the whispering of our soul and soar like the eagles we are.

“To soar with eagles all you need to do is believe that you can fly.”

― Anthony T. Hincks