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The original miracle of flight: Glorious birds in action

By Daphne Sashin, CNN
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1409 GMT (2209 HKT)
<a href='http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1156123'>Heather Tausig</a>, vice president of conservation at the New England Aquarium, traveled to the Australian territory of Christmas Island, where an estimated <a href='http://www.christmas.net.au/experiences/bird-watching.html' target='_blank'>80,000 seabirds nest annually</a>. This white tern in flight reminded her of how humans have studied birds to understand aerodynamics. Scroll through the gallery to see more beautiful birds. The <a href='http://www.audubon.org/' target='_blank'>National Audubon Society</a> helped verify the species of these birds. Heather Tausig, vice president of conservation at the New England Aquarium, traveled to the Australian territory of Christmas Island, where an estimated 80,000 seabirds nest annually. This white tern in flight reminded her of how humans have studied birds to understand aerodynamics. Scroll through the gallery to see more beautiful birds. The National Audubon Society helped verify the species of these birds.
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White tern, Christmas Island
Great blue heron, Michigan
Wood stork, South Carolina
Northern flickers, British Columbia
Long-tailed duck, Alaska
Red-tailed hawk, Washington
Snowy egret, Missouri
Indian peafowl, Dominican Republic
Kelp gulls, South Africa
Robin chicks, Pennsylvania
Northern gannets, Newfoundland
Guinea turaco, British Columbia
Mountain bluebird, Wyoming
Ruby-throated hummingbird, Georgia
White-fronted terns, New Zealand
Black-mandibled toucan, Costa Rica
Oriental darters, India
Philippine serpent eagle, Philippines
Laughing gull, South Carolina
White-crowned sparrow, Arizona
Great white pelicans, Ethiopia
Atlantic puffin, England
European starling, Arizona
Snowy owl, Maine
American oystercatcher, New Jersey
Mallard ducklings, British Columbia
Osprey, Maryland
Grey heron, Netherlands
Canada geese, Colorado
Andean flamingos, Chile
Mute swan, New York
Little bee-eater, Tanzania
Yellow-crowned night-heron, Florida
Rock pigeons, France
Linneated woodpecker, Costa Rica
Superb starling, Tanzania
Yellow-billed stork, South Africa
Black-backed gulls, New York
Brown pelican, Texas
Tufted puffin, Alaska
Great egret, Florida
Mew gull, Sweden
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Is there anything more majestic than a bird in flight?
  • CNN iReporters shared their best photos of feathered friends in action
  • "Their ability to fly is a work of art," one iReporter said

(CNN) -- Who among us hasn't fantasized about flying like a bird? We've created hot air balloons, planes and spacecraft to replicate what birds can already do naturally.

CNN recently invited readers to share their best photos of birds in action. The National Audubon Society helped identify the bird species in the above gallery.

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"Their ability to fly is a work of art in itself," said birdwatcher Michele Hancock, who is always on the lookout for unusual avian species to photograph.

Doug Whidby enjoys photographing birds near his home in Langley, Washington, and says they are the perfect subjects. "Their ability to fly is always a point of curiosity, and the details in their markings are stunning if you can capture them."

Scroll through the gallery and imagine yourself soaring through the sky. And yes, we know not all of these birds are flying, but they are too beautiful not to share.

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