Songbirds reveal the secrets of flight
How birds fly has gripped the human imagination since the time of the Ancient Greeks and Icarus’ fateful attempt to take to the skies. An EU-funded initiative has now begun to the reveal the strategies evolved by birds for a life on the wing.
The 'Avian flight: Integrating experiments with aerodynamic theory' (AVIAN Flight) project investigated the effect of moulting and carrying tracking devices on the flight of migratory songbirds. Scientists conducted a series of experiments into the aerodynamics and energy costs involved in avian flight in order to better understand how birds adapted to a flying lifestyle.
Project activities included collaboration with groups in Europe and the United States to develop tracking devices, known as geolocators, with minimal drag. Geolocators were used to collate data on Old World and New World migration systems that could be used to compare the flight of birds and bats. Data were also collected from a pilot project on the aerodynamics of landing behaviour in small birds.
Researchers studied migratory songbirds to determine the aerodynamic wakes resulting from both natural and experimental moulting of feathers. Their findings enabled the project team to better understand the different moulting strategies found in birds and the evolution of avian life history strategies. The data will help scientists to create a theoretical model for explaining the increased energy use and decreased flight ability during moult.
Information Source: Result from the EU funded FP7-PEOPLE programme
HEDENSTRÖM, Anders (Prof.)
Professor, Research Group Leader
Offer ID: 8742