Since ancient times, man has been fascinated by the birds. These creatures can fly, while he cannot. It is this fascination that urged him to build the planes and balloons. It is his craving for knowledge that made him “fly”, almost like the birds… Those birds who never needed to study in order to fly…
But how do birds fly? What made them fly? What is the science behind it?
Birds Have Wings
Obviously, birds have so they can fly. But how do these wings work? They work differently when birds just glide (or soar) and when they flap their wings. Let us consider the first situation which Newton’s third law can explain. When birds’ wings are open, they push down air, and as the law says that for every force there is an opposite and reaction force, the air below pushes them up. The push partly comes from the angle which the wings are held, and partly from the curvature of the wings. The pressure above the wings would be lower since air travels much faster above the bird’s wings than it does below. This pressure difference results in lift.
The second situation is much more complicated since this requires energy to overcome the drag of pushing through the air and to give the bird kinetic energy or energy for motion. Birds use the strong muscles in their breast to flap their wings. They use these muscles to push their wings forward, push air downwards, create lift, and if the wings are properly angled, generate thrust. Such movements need great strength and flexibility, and thus, the bird wings are hinged. On the downstroke, the wing is fully extended so to provide greater surface area for pushing air downwards. On the upstroke, the wings folds up, offering less area. This way, there would be less resistance and greater thrust.
Bird’s Body Features
Aside from their wings, the feathers are likewise important for flight. The feathers, which are not only beautiful and light protective skin covering for birds, help them catch air and give shape to the wings. The feathers grow in certain areas called feather tracks, and in between them are down feathers. These keep down the birds’ body weight. The tail is also plays a critical role as its serves like a rudder in the ship – it helps the bird maintain balance and turn when required. It also helps the bird slow down and land.
Bird’s Internal Power System
Inside their bodies, birds are light weight due to their hollow and light but strong bones. Birds also have fewer bones than most animals. The bones are hard but thin. The biggest bones in birds are the breast and shoulder bones. Their lungs are also efficient in catching oxygen from the air. They breathe faster than any other animals. They almost never run out of breath. Likewise, their hearts beat faster necessary for any hurried movements. They also eat huge amounts of high-energy food, relative to their body weight, which gives them the needed energy for such natural ability. These foods are high calories, such as nuts, fruits, fish, and rodents.
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