Bird Wing Shapes: Amaze-wing Facts On Wing Types That Kids Will Love! | Kidadl


Bird Wing Shapes: Amaze-wing Facts On Wing Types That Kids Will Love!

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There are four major wing types of bird wings and the wing shapes which are common in birds are active soaring wings (gulls), passive soaring wings (eagles, hawks), elliptical wings, and high-speed wings (falcons, swifts).

The forelimbs which birds have are the wings they possess. The highly modified forelimbs are well adapted to produce lift and enable a bird to fly in the air. 

Flying birds have light beaks and hollow bones. You can see the birds in all sizes and shapes, and each of these flying bird species has different wing formations for the flight they have. A bird's wings are made of primary feathers and are used differently in different birds. The wings of a bird are adapted to the environment and the lifestyle they need to live and wing shapes are such that different bird uses their wings which suits their environment as flying at high-speed wings needs a high aspect ratio to take a speed flight. Wings of birds mainly comprise roll inertia a measure of how resistant the bird is in changing the direction. Circling comes into being for birds like vultures who remain in the air for long periods. Birds who hover around like hummingbirds have lightweight wings which allow them low drag and minimize muscular effort to move wings. Wing shape affects the thrust and takeoff, and also when the birds soar, the shape relatively plays a much wider role. Birds raise their wings by contracting a big muscle beneath the wing. The supracoracoideus muscle, which is attached to the keel of the sternum, attaches to the top of the humerus through a pulley, a clever mechanism seen nowhere else among vertebrates. Birds can dive and land, glide, hover with the help of their wings.

Read on for more on bird wings. You can also read laughing kookaburra facts and boxer tail facts.

What are different bird wing shapes and how do they work?

The four types of wings which can be seen in the birds are passive soaring, elliptical wings, high-speed wings, and active soaring. A bird's wings spread out and create slots to catch the hot air which allows birds to fly higher in the air. Wings patterns are made as per the needs of a particular bird species as wings are essential for life in the air. Different wings give different advantages like maneuverability, low use of energy, and more speed.

Elliptical wings can be seen on crows, sparrows, robins, and most scrub-dwelling and small forest birds. Elliptical wings enable a high level of maneuverability and control in confined areas and minimize the drag to permit rapid descent and ascent. Elliptical wings are suitable for short bursts of high speed, making them more effective. While elliptical wings allow high speed, the speed cannot be maintained. Birds with these types of wings are what you see in your backyard.

Primary feathers spread out in passive soaring wings and this crates slots through which the bird catches the columns of warm air called thermals. Examples of these kinds of birds are hawks, storks, and eagles. The wings of these birds are long and broad, which allows them to land comfortably in confined areas. Most of these birds are land soars with good maneuverability which is required for the tactic soaring in air currents.

Active soaring wings are very narrow and long allowing the bird to fly without the need to flap the wings for quite some time. These types of birds depend a lot on the prevailing wind currents of the particular flying area. Passive soaring birds do not tend to do so. These kinds of birds are the gulls, gannets, and albatross. The bird Laysan albatross consists of very narrow and long wings. The down and up flight style of this bird makes it use the small differences in the wind speed so that it can travel the long distance with the minimum energy in use. The albatross wing looks very different from an eagle's wings. While the wing of the eagle is very wide and has feathers that stick out. An albatross has smooth and thin feathers. This shape of the wing is called the active soaring shape and this allows the bird to decrease the drag in the air.

High-speed wings are very thin and long, but they are shorter than the birds who have active soaring birds. As the name of the wings, the birds who possess this type of wing are very fast. Also, these birds are good at maintaining their flying speed for a long time, unlike the birds who have elliptical wings. Examples of birds who have these wings are ducks, swifts, terns, falcons, and sandpipers. A high-speed wing allows a bird to fly very rapidly and relatively sustains that speed for a long distance, which helps it to outperform slower-flying species. High-speed wings are narrow and not razor-sharp, allowing the bird to fly with less air resistance.

What is the structure of a bird's wing?

A bird's wing is similar to a human arm as it consists of three parts - the forearm, upper arm, and hand and the three joints are the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. The feathers that cover the wings are categorized as coverts, primary flight feathers, and secondary flight feathers. 

The wing skeleton which birds have is a quadruped arm skeleton. The wing of the bird have primary feathers to form the point of the wing, and also have a set of secondary and tertiary feathers. The counter feathers provide the shape to the bird to fly easily, while the down feathers which they have give the insulation.

The shape of a bird's wings is important for producing lift. This signifies that the air is traveling faster across the upper surface of the wing, reducing air pressure on the top of the wing and creating a lift.

The Dalmatian pelican flaunting its wings

What do different bird wing shapes do?

The shape which the birds have of their wings assures that the air must travel faster when it is passing from the top as compared to the slow-moving air below. The difference in this pressure ensures the bird the lift they need.

Even all these types of wings have an unbelievable number of variations. A robin’s wing only resembles that of an albatross as its flat surface is wrapped in feathers. Otherwise, the shapes of wings are totally different. Robins are mainly bound between the trees in various little bursts of energy, and hence they need compact wings which are capable to flap fast so that they can generate a good amount of force. But in the case of the albatross, it needs soaring for a few weeks or sometimes months around the sea, and hence the need for large wings arises here to generate lift without the need of drag, and this gives them efficient gliding. The wings that a bird has are adapted to the lifestyle they have. This means that the wings' shapes are in accordance with the ecologies the birds live in. It is easy to understand the behavior of a bird just by looking at the shape of its wings.

What is the curved shape of a bird's wing called?

Airfoil is the word. The wing of a bird serves as an airfoil. This is a curved surface that has developed to create lift while reducing drag factors like turbulence and friction. The weight of different bird species is in relation to the type of wings they have.

There are four general wing shapes that are common in birds: active soaring wings, passive soaring wings, elliptical wings, and high-speed wings. Feathers that spread out, creating 'slots', allow the bird to catch vertical columns of hot air called thermals to rise higher in the air. Flight feathers are also asymmetrical and curved so that air flowing over them generates a lift to fly in the sky. A bird with conical wing types is more likely to fly a rapid distance with the help of wind.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for bird wing shapes, amaze-wing facts on wing types that kids will love, then why not take a look at how to breathe underwater, curious swimming facts revealed for kids or are mushrooms decomposers, fascinating facts on fungi plants for kids?

Written By
Nidhi Sahai

Nidhi is a professional content writer who has been associated with leading organizations, such as Network 18 Media and Investment Ltd., giving the right direction to her ever-curious nature and rational approach. She decided to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism & Mass Communication, which she proficiently completed in 2021. She got acquainted with video journalism during graduation and started as a freelance videographer for her college. Moreover, she has been a part of volunteer work and events throughout her academic career life. Now, you can find her working for the content development team at Kidadl, giving her valuable input and producing excellent articles for our readers.

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