Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Birds In Flight

Why do birds fly and how do birds fly?  These questions have always been in my mind since I was a little girl. Watching birds and birdwatching were never my thing until one day, I happened to move to a rural countryside. A 15 acres unbuildable land adjacent to my little home where became my refuge, or  I should say, an after work retreat!


Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) Click image to enlarge


In order to fly high in sky, birds have to do a lot of sacrifices and adaptation. Their hollow or semi-hollow bones form the lightweight skeleton. They evolved to lose all their teeth in replace of a lighter jaw. Unlike mammals convert ammonia waste in the form of urea, birds excrete uric acid, which does not dissolve in water easily, so there is not much water to be wasted or needed. In order to maintain the energy they need to fly, their high metabolism could produce feces in as less than 20 minutes after feeding. The most distinctive part distinguishing birds from all other animals is feathers.  Not only do feathers play important roles in mating, territorial dominance and thermal regulation, the plumage at different ages and seasons protect birds from predators.  Feathers provide a crucial function in most birds, to be able to fly. From the smallest number of feathers in Ruby-throated Hummingbird (about 1,000 feathers) to the most feathered Whistling Swan (over 25,000 feathers), birds control shapes of their wings and tail during flight, chasing and feeding, even use facial feathers as an auditory medium to carry sound into ears like in Barn Owl.


White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis). Click image to enlarge

Fly is a symbol of freedom. Thanks to the modern technology of digital photography, it allows me to capture birds in flight that normal eyes could hardly glimpse such a beautiful action. Hummingbirds are migrating to the central and south America for the winter. According to my state record, they should be all gone by the mid of October. This is a sad month for me as saying farewell to my beloved birds. Would I be luckily enough to have a winter hummer visit my yard this year? I hope so and you will be the first one to know :) -- Happy Birding! -- Linda


No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Visitors around the World

free counters