Day 40  of 100 Days of Blogging

Today’s post is all about bird flight patterns. Fitting for having reached the 40 day milestone, as we seem to be flying through our countdown to the 100th Anniversary of Bird Protection Quebec! Flight patterns are a great tool to use to help identify a bird and worth remembering along with all the other details about a species.

10 Common Bird flight Patterns

#1. Direct Flight – Many species including ducks, herons, shorebirds and blackbirds fly in a straight and level path while continuously flapping their wings.

#2. Flap and Glide – Ravens, owls and hawks commonly take a break from flapping their wings by soaring and gliding.

#3. Glide – Swifts and swallows glide in order to travel a distance without flapping.

#4. Hawking – This techniques refers to flying out and up from a perch, then back again in a circular motion. This is used by flycatchers and warblers to hunt for insects “on the wing”.

#5. Hovering – The bird appears as if hovering in place. Hummingbirds can do this at will because of a unique flexible shoulder joint that enables the bird to create lift during the up and down stroke. Other birds, such as kestrels, kingfishers and Storm-Petrels can hover briefly by flying into the wind.

#6. Static Soaring – Hawks and vultures fly in circles and soar on their long broad wings.

#7. Straight-line-formation – Pelicans, flamingoes, cormorants and some cranes fly in a straight line in formation while low over the water.

#8. Undulating flight – This describes a kind of rollercoaster style where the bird flaps its wings during the rising phase, then glides as it descends into the valley of the wave. Woodpeckers and finches can be seen using this style of flight.

#9. V Formation – This is probably the most recognizable pattern, used by migratory birds such as geese, ducks and swans. The flock is arranged in a V pattern, each bird slightly higher than the other to take advantage of the lift that is generated by the wingtip vortex of the bird in front of it. The lead bird and outside positions of the formation are the most physically difficult, so the flock members take turns at these positions to help conserve energy.

#10. Zigzag – Snipes and grouse fly up and down in a somewhat triangular path. This is can be seen when a bird is flushed and is trying to elude predators.