Birds With Dark Feathers Fly More Efficiently

There are lots of factors that determine which birds can fly faster, longer, and higher including the size of the bird, wingspan, and according to a recent study, the color of the wing feathers.

A team of scientists and researchers at Belgium’s University of Ghent conducted a study through which they wanted to determine whether the color of the bird’s wings influences its flying ability. As it turns out, birds with dark feathers can fly more efficiently than those with light-colored feathers.

Photo by Loïc Mermilliod/ Unsplash

The study found that dark feathers get heated up more quickly, warming up the bird’s wings and air that surrounds it. This affects the bird’s movement and allows easier movement through the air while also saving up energy.

The researchers studied several different bird species like osprey, gannet, and gulls, while also using stuffed wings. These stuffed wings were heated and then placed in a wind tunnel, which allowed the scientists to observe the temperature effect more efficiently.

Photo by Jeffrey Eisen/ Unsplash

“We found temperature differences of about 9 degrees between black and white,” – said the head of the research team, Svana Rogalla. “We would even find these temperature differences in the same wing.”

The study also showed that the birds that have white feathers close to the body and dark feathers on the tip of their wings benefit even more. This is because the clash of the hot and cold air creates convective currents, increasing the bird’s ability to lift.

Rogalla and her team now want to expand their study and precisely determine the temperature effect on lift and drag.