how are birds able to fly

Celebrate Urban Birds works to co-create community science initiatives that are equity-based, inclusive, and bilingual in order to benefit communities that have historically been marginalized or excluded from citizen science, conservation, and birding. Through fair knowledge exchange, improved accessibility, highlighting underrepresented perspectives and experiences, and consciously promoting community ownership and scientific research leadership, the project aims to advance better science. The project has co-developed procedures to co-design, test, and execute scientific research and programming with a focus on racial equity alongside participating communities.

A structure that blends strength and light weight is one of the prerequisites for heavier-than-air flying machines. This is true for birds as well as planes. Aside from wings, birds have a variety of physical characteristics that combine to allow them to fly. They need lightweight, streamlined, rigid structures for flight. Bird flight is influenced by the four forces of flight: weight, lift, drag, and thrust.

Birds’ wings flap with an up-and-down motion. This propels them forward. To maintain alignment with the direction of travel, the wings must automatically twist with each downward stroke in order for the entire wingspan to be at the right angle of attack.

Larger wings produce greater lift than smaller wings. Therefore, in order for smaller-winged birds (and planes) to maintain the same lift as those with larger wings, they must fly faster.

The bird or plane is more maneuverable and can fly more slowly while maintaining lift when its wing loading number is lower.

A bird’s wing produces lift and thrust during the downstroke. The air is deflected downwards and also to the rear. To minimize resistance as it soars through the air, the bird lowers its angle of attack and partially folds its wings on the upward stroke. Similar to gliding, the inner section of the wing can produce lift despite having very little movement.


How do birds have the ability to fly?

Birds have hollow bones that are very light and strong. Their feathers are light and the shape of their wings is perfect for catching the air. Their lungs are great at getting oxygen and very efficient, so they can fly for very long distances without getting tired.

What makes birds fly?

The wings of birds have specialized feathers for flying called “flight feathers.” The power for flight is generated by repetitively pushing the flight feathers downward.

How can birds fly but not humans?

We cannot create enough lift to overcome the force of gravity (or our weight). It’s not only wings that allow birds to fly. Their light frame and hollow bones make it easier to counteract gravity. Air sacs inside their bodies make birds lighter, which enables smoother motion through air.

How do birds not fall when they fly?

To create lift, the bird holds the front part of its wing slightly higher than the back part. As the air passes over the wing, (from front to back), the air underneath is pushed downwards. This pushes the wing (and bird) upwards. A bird’s wings are just the right shape to build this upward force.