Flying through gaps: How does a bird deal with the problem and what costs are there?

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskriftPeer review


Animals flying in the wild often show remarkable abilities to negotiate obstacles and narrow openings in complex environments. Impressive as these abilities are, this must result in costs in terms of impaired flight performance. In this study, I used a budgerigar as a model for studying these costs. The bird was filmed in stereo when flying through a wide range of gap widths from well above wingspan down to a mere 1/4 of wingspan. Three-dimensional flight trajectories were acquired and speed, wingbeat frequency and accelerations/decelerations were calculated. The bird used two different wing postures to get through the gaps and could use very small safety margins (down to 6 mm on either side) but preferred to use larger when gap width allowed. When gaps were smaller than wingspan, flight speed was reduced with reducing gap width down to half for the smallest and wingbeat frequency was increased. I conclude that flying through gaps potentially comes with multiple types of cost to a bird of which the main may be: (i) reduced flight speed increases the flight duration and hence the energy consumption to get from point A to B, (ii) the underlying U-shaped speed to power relationship means further cost from reduced flight speed, and associated with it (iii) elevated wingbeat frequency includes a third direct cost.

TidskriftRoyal Society Open Science
StatusPublished - 2021 aug.

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Evolutionsbiologi


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