Adjusting for Gusts

A gliding owl adjusts to a wind gust.

In flight, birds must adjust quickly to wind gusts or risk crashing. Research shows that the structure of birds’ wings enables them to respond faster than their brains can. The wings essentially act like a suspension system, with the shoulder joint allowing them to lift rapidly in response to vertical gusts. This motion keeps the bird’s head and torso steady, so they can focus on more complex tasks like landing, obstacle avoidance, and prey capture. (Image and research credit: J. Cheney et al.; submitted by Kam-Yung Soh)

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