5 facts about bird flight
1. Weighty wings
Around a third of a bird’s body weight is made up of the large wing muscles. These are the machines that power flight, keeping the bird airborne for large periods of time.
2. In a flap
Flapping is one of the most common flying methods, but it uses the most energy. Some birds alternate between flapping and gliding to conserve energy.
3. Hitching a ride
Taking advantage of the rising air thermals and updrafts, some birds soar in a circle around these areas to lift them higher, with minimal energy expended.
4. Mid-flight naps
Studies found that some birds can sleep while flying. Measuring electrical energy in the brains of great frigatebirds, results showed that they sleep in ten-second bursts during migration.
5. Furthest flyers
The Arctic tern has the longest migration of all the birds; over 80,000 kilometres a year. In their lifetime of around 30 years, their total flight distance is equal to three trips to the Moon and back.
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