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Birds do it, bees do it …

By Sue Hagan, marketing and communications manager
…. even educated fleas do it! Let’s do it, let’s … “
Do what? Cole Porter would be disappointed, but I’m going to merely say, … “take off in flight!”
It’s amazing to me – all the various ways flight happens in nature. We’ve all seen hawks soaring overhead, letting the thermals take over. And we’ve seen (at least on video), owls’ silent flap, flap as they take off after prey. And hummingbirds with their rapid wing movement that allows them to hover at a flower or feeder.
All these wings operate slightly differently, allowing the birds to move in ways that will best allow them to eat, take shelter, and elude predators. To learn more about bird and insect flight, I like to watch YouTube videos – especially where the filmmaker is employing super slow motion to capture images.
Watching a bee fly, as it is filmed at 7,000 frames per second, is nothing short of extraordinary. The bee’s wings move almost the same way a kayak paddle is propelled: a forward motion, and then a torqued pull-back. Slow motion also shows sets of dragonfly wings operating independently of each other to allow – among other things – the front wings to channel wind and send it gliding over the back wings. And it’s hard to believe that butterflies could be even more beautiful than they already are, but watching them fly in slow motion is pure artistry.
Humans have always been fascinated by flight, but it took century upon century for them to figure out how to make a machine that would fly. Perhaps if early man would have had the ability to evaluate slow-motion flight in nature, as we can, those discoveries might have happened a lot sooner.
You can learn more by searching the internet for videos showing the slow-motion flight of many birds and insects. And you can join Preservation Parks all summer, starting today (May 25) to learn about flight in all its forms.

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