Phenomena

Falcon vs. Raven

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Earth Unplugged has posted some great high-speed footage of a peregrine falcon and a raven in flight. Notice how both birds draw their wings inward and back on the upstroke. By doing so, they decrease their drag and thus the energy necessary for flapping. On the downstroke, they extend their wings fully and increase their angle of attack, creating not only lift but thrust. The falcon boasts an incredibly streamlined shape, not only along its body but also along its wings. In contrast, the raven has broader wings with large primary feathers that fan out near the tips. Splaying these large feathers out decreases the strength of the bird’s wingtip vortices, thereby reducing downwash and increasing lift, much the same way winglets do on planes. That extra lift and control the big primaries provide is important for the raven’s acrobatic skill. (Video credit: Earth Unplugged; via io9)

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