As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Flying without wings: Losing feathers has a detrimental effect on migrating birds

Birds that moult at the wrong time of the year could be disadvantaged, according to a study by scientists at Lund University, Sweden. Birds depend on a full set of feathers for maximum efficiency when flying long distances, but the study shows that moulting has a detrimental effect on their flight performance.

The researchers trained a jackdaw to fly in a wind tunnel and measured different types of drag experienced by the bird. "We expected the bird not to be able to glide at the lowest speeds that it could glide at before moult and our results confirmed this", says Marco Klein Heerenbrink, who is involved in the research.

The results imply the bird could not fully compensate for the missing feathers during moult. This suggests that if a migratory bird departs prematurely before it has fully moulted, it is likely it will need more energy to make the journey and may need more stopovers too.

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