Birds are unique and fascinating creatures. In this lesson, you’ll learn about birds’ strength, body features and speed that give them the awesome ability to fly.

How Do Birds Fly?

When you look outside, you probably see lots of different birds flying and soaring from place to place. Their wings flap and help them to fly high in the air. Then, their wings spread out in a strong, straight line to continue soaring.

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The body of a bird is designed to fly.
Flying Bird

Flying is possible for birds because of their strength, speed, weight and the way their bodies are created with parts such as wings. These are adaptations, or special and different features, that are designed to help birds fly. There are many different birds with different ways of flying. Let’s explore how birds have the awesome ability to fly.

How Do the Shape and Weight of Birds’ Bodies Help Them Fly?

Birds’ bodies are usually lighter in weight than other animals. This is a necessary adaptation that helps them fly. Gravity is an invisible force that pulls heavier objects down toward Earth more than lighter objects. Therefore, the light weight of birds makes it easier for them to move up into the air since less gravity is working against them.

Birds’ weight is also focused toward the center of their bodies. They don’t have too much weight on the sides, front and back of their bodies. This gives them the balance they need to fly.

Your bones are thick and heavy. However, birds’ bones are hollow, or empty, on the inside, which causes less weight. They also have very light feathers. Mother birds lay eggs instead of carrying babies in their bodies, which helps them to stay lighter in weight as well. Additionally, birds have beaks instead of heavy teeth and noses; this also helps to reduce their weight.

Have you every walked around with a heavy, full stomach from eating too much? This causes you to feel heavier. Birds, on the other hand, eat lightweight foods such as berries, seeds and light meats that digest very quickly. Their bodies also get rid of wastes quickly so that they’re not too weighed down to fly.

How Do Birds’ Wings Help Them to Fly?

Bodybuilders have big, strong arms that help them lift hundreds of pounds of weight. Birds have strong and powerful wings that help to lift their entire bodies off the ground. These are special adaptations that help them fly.

The shape of birds’ wings and the way they flap them allows air to move much faster above the wing than below the wing as they soar into the air. This difference in air force, or air pressure, is what lifts the bird from the ground.

How Do Speed and High Places Help Birds to Fly?

Have you ever run really fast with a kite to get it to take off in the wind? Some birds do this to take off in flight. For instance, a loon runs really fast and spreads its wings. Soon, the difference in air pressure lifts it into the air.

Hummingbirds fly differently. The extremely fast speed of the hummingbird’s flapping wings allows it to fly without running. Other birds, such as falcons, leap off of high locations like the cliff of a mountain or a high tree. Then, the strength of their wings keeps them in the air to continue soaring.

Hummingbirds have fast flapping wings.
Humming with Fast Wings

Lesson Summary

Birds have special adaptations, such as the light weight of their bodies, the shape of their wings, speed and strength, that all work together to help birds fly. Birds have different ways of taking off in flight, which include running first, leaping off of high cliffs, or using very fast flapping wings that help them to fly immediately. Flying occurs when the air pressure above birds’ wings moves faster than the air below its wings.