Dropping A Pigeion off the Sears Tower

Let’s say you bring a pigieon to the top of the Sears Tower (or Empire State).

Can he fly down? Would he be able to do so without having to land on building ledges?

If so why don’t Pigieons fly high?

It’s spelled pigeon, just so you’ll know in the future.

I didn’t know they didn’t fly high. Maybe they just choose not to most of the time because their main food sources (dumpsters, etc) are on the ground.

The pigeon would probably glide down to a more comfortable altitude with little effort, to get closer to the food sources chikki mentioned. Your bigger problem is that someone would find a way to accuse you of supporting terrorism as soon as you embarked on this experiment.

I question whether the pigeon is wise to this, but many cities are home to peregrine falcons or other raptors. Flying around all alone up high would presumably make one a more likely prey than if in a large flock on the ground squabbling over a discarded dog with all the toppings. Mmmm… Vienna all-beef.

Anyway, besides the food that racinchikki mentioned, there’s also where to make a nest. Many more opportunities further down, and without the windchill.

I don’t know if this is an OP-enhancer or possibly something that merits its own question, but how high do birds fly?

Racing pigeons have no problem negotiating mountain ranges. They’re extremely strong fliers. I’ve had my share of bruises handling Rock and Mourning Doves.

Ringo. there is quite a bit of variation in how high birds will fly. Assuming we’re talking about migration and longer distances than the usual day-to-day foraging, socializing, and predator-avoidance, then the general rule is that smaller birds fly at lower heights. Small birds like warblers probably fly between 500 and 1000 feet. But there are still a few that will attain real altitude. Various geese and vultures have been seen flying through mountain passes in the Himalayas:

From the USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center :
"Bird flight at 20,000 feet, where less than half the oxygen is present than at sea level, is impressive if only because the work is achieved by living muscle tissue. A Himalayan mountain climber at 16,000 feet was rather amazed when a flock of geese flew northward about two miles over his head honking as they went. At 20,000 feet a man has a hard time talking while running, but those geese were probably flying at 27,000 feet and even calling while they traveled at this tremendous height. Numerous other observations have come from the Himalayas. Observers at 14,000 feet recorded storks and cranes flying so high that they could be seen only through field glasses. In the same area large vultures were seen soaring at 25,000 feet and an eagle carcass was found at 26,000 feet. The expedition to Mt. Everest in 1952 found skeletons of a Northern Pintail and a Black-tailed Godwit at 16,400 feet on Khumbu Glacier. Bar-headed Geese have been observed flying over the highest peaks (29,000+ feet) even though a 10,000-foot pass was nearby. Probably at least 30 species regularly cross these high passes. "

And even when they don’t fly at great heights, birds perform some amazing feats. Blackburnian Warblers, for example, migrate south by flying out well into the Atlantic Ocean before heading back west toward the Carribbean. Not too many places to land there so they’d better tank up well.

Vultures seem to hold the altitude record for birds.
From Intriguing vulture facts at bbc:

There must have been some good thermals that day :slight_smile:

Thanks, brachy and Squink.

There’s a difference between flying over a hill or mountain and flying to the top of a skyscraper (which is relatively small in area and steep sided).

There’s probably little reason for birds to need to fly that high; there will be few reliable food sources up at the top of tall buildings(and the energy expense of getting up there to eat it makes it less worthwhile), also, nests and nestlings are more likely to be damaged by wind.

Going back to the OP, pigeons seem to spend more time walking around. Could the pigeon walk down? Would it starve by the time it reached the bottom, or is there enough food inside the building?

We have lots of turkey vultures around here and they soar beautifully. In the vicinity of mountains there can be strong updrafts that can lift great weights to high altitudes. Bishop, CA on the lee of the Sierra Nevada range is a well know glider flying area.

The Los Angeles Times reported, in a story a number of years ago, about the experience of the local Bishop airport operator. He had a WWII P-38 fighter that he flew and one day at over 20000 ft., in a strong standing wave in the atmosphere, his plane was ascending at at a good clip with the engines at idle and the landing gear extended.

A number of glider pilots have been killed in that area because the standing wave updraft carried them above the ability of their oxygen systems, where were rudimentary, to sustain them.

Dunno, but I work about 100 feet from the Sears Tower, so send me a pigeon or two and I’ll check it out.

But more importantly, what is a pigeon’s airspeed velocity?

Laden or unladen?

From the Archives:

How high can birds and bees fly?

Well, beans. That should be Blackpoll Warblers (Dendroica striata), not D. fusca. Duh.

Mangetout, I suppose there are some differences between flying over mountain ranges and being dropped off a skyscraper. I was thinking that both are places with high wind currents. In addition, I was thinking that cities mimic some of the Rock Dove natural habitat (shear cliffs) and that wind gusts should pose few problems for them.