On March 14, 2015, a white-tailed eagle named Darshan set a new world record for the highest-recorded bird flight.
Darshan flew from the tallest man-made structure in the world — the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai, which is 2,722 feet or 0.52 mile high.
But that isn’t the only thing that’s amazing about Darshan.
The eagle’s eyes are so sharp that, from more than half a mile above, Darshan was able to spot his trainer on the ground below.
Thanks to a tiny Sony Action camera attached to Darshan’s back, we have literally a bird’s eye view of what happened.
Watch as Darshan is released from atop the Burj Khalifa. (I recommend you watch on full screen.)
For more than a minute, the eagle hovers in the air scanning the ground below….
Then, at the 1:40 mark in the video below, Darshan spots his trainer — falconer Jacques-Olivier Travers — and swoops down to land on Travers’ gloved hand.
Here’s a longer video:
From NBC News:
The flight was organized by the Freedom Conservation group to raise awareness for endangered birds of prey and encourage conservation; in the past, the group has recorded eagles taking off from landmarks across Europe, including the Eiffel Tower in Paris and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
“We know that people love these types of videos. It’s a great way for us to attract the public’s attention to endangered animals and to the fact that humans need to learn how to share their space with these animals,” Freedom Conservation Director Ronald Menzel told NBC News.
Menzel’s adventures with birds caught the attention of the Crown Prince of Dubai, who invited the French conservationist to Dubai to bring attention to the need to protect wildlife in urban areas. Menzel told NBC News that over the course of four months, they worked with the prince’s technology team and Sony to get the camera and transmitter on Darshan’s back.
The white-tailed eagle was trained by falconer Jacques-Olivier Travers, who has pioneered techniques to reintroduce endangered eagles to the wild, including paragliding, skiing and kayaking with the birds to teach them survival skills. Travers, who runs a park with about 150 birds of prey in Haute Savoie, France, founded the Freedom Conservation group in 2006.
Darshan is a white-tailed eagle.
The white-tailed eagle, aka eagle of the rain or sea grey eagle, is a close cousin of the American bald eagle, found in Eurasia, near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting.
The white-tailed eagle is a very large bird of prey, measuring 26-37 in. in length, with a wingspan of 5.8-8 ft., the largest of any eagle. The average life-span is 21 years; some white-tailed eagles have been found to live over 25 years.
White-tailed eagles pair for life.
Nearly extinct, successful efforts have been made to reintroduce the white-tailed eagle to parts of Europe, including Scotland and Ireland.