Data from: Gliding for a free lunch: biomechanics of foraging flight in Common Swifts (Apus apus)
Hedrick, Tyson; Pichot, Cecile; de Margerie, Emmanuel (2018), Data from: Gliding for a free lunch: biomechanics of foraging flight in Common Swifts (Apus apus), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.89b2c4s
Although the biomechanics of animal flight have been well studied in laboratory apparatus such as wind tunnels for many years, the applicability of these data to natural flight behaviour has been examined in few instances and mostly in the context of long-distance migration. Here we use rotational stereo-videography to record the free-flight trajectories of foraging common swifts. We find that despite their exquisite manoeuvring capabilities, the swifts only rarely performed high-acceleration turns. More surprisingly, we also found that despite feeding on tiny insects likely moving with ambient flow, the birds adjust their air speed to optimize cost of transport over distance. Finally, swifts spent only 25% of their time flapping; the majority of time (71%) was spent in extended wing gliding during which the average power expended for changes in speed or elevation was 0.84 W kg-1 and not significantly different from 0. Thus, gliding swifts extracted sufficient environmental energy to pay the cost of flight during foraging.
National Science Foundation, Award: 1253276