When navigating strong crosswinds birds adjust the angle of their body into the wind, whilst keeping their head fixed on the target destination, in order to maintain forwards motion.
Experiments conducted by Daniel Quinn at the University of Virginia use live lovebirds in a wind tunnel painted to simulate a forest environment. The lovebirds are seen to consistently angle their body in the direction of the wind, while keeping their head oriented towards the landing perch. This behaviour is very similar to that used by a pilot of a fixed-wing aircraft, but in the case of birds they are also able to control the flapping speed of their wings to assist. The hope is to be able to use this knowledge to improve the stability of drones when flying in strong winds.
This video is part of a collaboration between FYFD and the Journal of Fluid Mechanics featuring a series of interviews with researchers from the APS DFD 2017 conference.
Sponsored by FYFD, the Journal of Fluid Mechanics, and the UK Fluids Network. Produced by Tom Crawford and Nicole Sharp with assistance from A.J. Fillo.