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Re: New MANIAC book is out! -good/poor flyer
On Feb 22, 2010, at 3:26 AM, Erik Boehm wrote:
Indeed. But they can launch vertically at albatross grade
body weights. That does not strike me as poor.
I have never observed this behavior in the wild turkeys I see, they
always seem to attempt to run away first, and then start to fly, it
may be dependent on the nature of the threat.
I think it is dependent - flushing with cursors, like dogs, seems to
provoke a burst launch more readily than human presence. There is a
great paper by Askew and Marsh about burst launching birds, that
compares the ability across multiple size classes, with the largest
being wild turkeys. Contact me offlist if you'd like a copy - I'll
hook you up.
Also- from other threads on here(mainly pterosaur vs bird
launching), it seems with birds, a large portion of the initial
impulse comes from the legs of the bird, if that is what allows this
supposed behavior, I wouldn't say that makes them good flyers, but
And if that ability is correlated to the leg muscles, that makes
sense for birds that walk rather than fly when given the chance.
An excellent observation, and a reasonable distinction. My primary
argument is not necessarily that your definition of poor versus good
flyer is wrong, but only to point out that any such distinction has to
be carefully defined, at which point the use of the terms becomes
rather moot. I caution against the use of "good" and "poor" when
talking about avian flight, especially when the terms are not defined.
In my mind, launching is part of flight - and as such, having strong
hindlimbs can be seen as an advantage for one phase of flight, which
also happens to be highly functional for walking and running. Such
distinctions are essentially a matter of personal discretion, and as
such, I urge those on the list publishing on subjects related to
flight (or any area of locomotion) to discuss the topics in terms of
more objective characteristics, and drop (or specifically define) more
arbitrary distinctions like "good", "poor", or "weak".
Assistant Professor of Biology
Woodland Road, Pittsburgh PA 15232
Buhl Hall, Room 226A