21 Jun Hey Ma, Look at Me! No Wings! | June 2016
“Hey Ma, Look at Me! No Wings!”
This looks odd.
After all, birds are supposed to fly by flapping their wings. Right?
Sometimes, a bird will coast like a dart. Then it looks like the Brewer’s Blackbird in the photo.
Here, this bird coasted for about 30 ft (10 m) before resuming its flapping to maintain air speed.
This saves valuable energy.
And birds are masters at saving energy. That’s because spending extra energy translates into needing to work harder to find more food.
So you will never see a bird perched on a branch flapping its wings because it forget to stop flapping them.
Birds are smart like that.
It’s even possible, if another bird saw one flapping its wings, it might call out, “Hey, your wings are flapping!”
Then the forgetful bird would say, “Oops,” and stop flapping.
Other birds will fly with no wings, too.
For example, an Acorn Woodpecker will launch off a branch and coast before flapping its wings.
Some birds protect themselves by flying with no wings.
This creates a random, undulating flight path. Such unpredictable flight makes it difficult for a raptor, like a falcon, to snatch the bird in the air.
And some birds play.
For example, I’ve watched Gray Catbirds fly directly at dense tangles of branches. At the last moment, they’d pull in their wings, thereby darting through small openings. Once in the clear, they’d resume flapping their wings.
Since it’s impossible to take a photo of a bird doing this, here’s a photo of a Gray Catbird on a branch.
Help Birds Tip
Why: Burning gas releases pollutants, which are bad for the environment and bad for birds. And of course, wasting gas wastes money.
How: One easy trick is: Turn off the engine once you have safely parked. Certainly, if birds conserve energy, people can also conserve energy.
Two minutes of letting the engine idle is equal to a mile of driving. When racing the engine (e.g., while running the air conditioner), a minute of idling can be equal to a mile of driving.
I once saw a man spend his lunch break napping in a commercial truck with the engine running. After an hour, I’d guess that he had wasted at least three gallons of gas. If he does this every workday, he costs his company more than $2,000 per year.
Here’s an article that offers easy, practical ways to save gas (and money): See 10 Easy Ways to Save Gas
Did You Know?
The most effective way to help birds is to buy land.
Here are three organizations that excel at doing this.
Please visit their web sites to learn about the work they do.
Here’s an excellent book: The American Bird Conservancy Guide to Bird Conservation