Book

Avian Flight

John J. Videler

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780199299928
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780191714924 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199299928.001.0001

Series: Oxford Ornithology Series

Avian Flight

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Bird flight has always intrigued mankind. This book provides an up-to-date account of the existing knowledge on the subject, offering new insights and challenges some established views. A brief history of the science of flight introduces the basic physical principles governing aerial locomotion. This is followed by chapters on the flight-related functional morphology. The anatomy of the flight apparatus includes the wings, tail, and body. Treatment of the wings emphasizes the difference in shape of the arm and hand part. The structural complexity and mechanical properties of feathers receive special attention. Aerodynamic principles used by birds are explained in theory by applying Newton’s laws, and in practice by showing the direction and velocity of the flow around the arm and hand wing. The Archaeopteryx fossils remain crucial to the understanding of the evolution of bird flight despite the recent discovery of a range of well-preserved ancient birds. A novel hypothesis explaining the enigmatic details of the Archaeopteryx remains and challenges established theories regarding the origin of bird flight. Take-off, flapping flight, gliding, and landing are the basic ingredients of bird flight, and birds use a variety of flight styles from hovering to soaring. Muscles are the engines that generate the forces required to control the wings and tail, and to work during flapping motion. The energy required to fly can be estimated or measured directly, and a comparison of the empirical results, provides insights into the trend in metabolic costs of flight of birds varying in shape and mass from hummingbirds to albatrosses.

Keywords: bird flight; physics; functional anatomy; wings; evolution; flight styles; muscles; forces; energy; metabolic costs

Book.  288 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Vertebrates

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Table of Contents

Feathers for flight in Avian Flight

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Aerodynamics in Avian Flight

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Bird flight modes in Avian Flight

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