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Wake analysis of aerodynamic components for the glide envelope of a jackdaw (Corvus monedula)

  • Marco KleinHeerenbrink
  • Kajsa Warfvinge
  • Anders Hedenström
Publishing year: 2016-05-15
Language: English
Pages: 1572-1581
Publication/Series: Journal of Experimental Biology
Volume: 219
Issue: 10
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: The Company of Biologists Ltd

Abstract english

Gliding flight is a relatively inexpensive mode of flight used by many larger bird species, where potential energy is used to cover the cost of aerodynamic drag. Birds have great flexibility in their flight configuration, allowing them to control their flight speed and glide angle. However, relatively little is known about how this flexibility affects aerodynamic drag. We measured the wake of a jackdaw (Corvus monedula) gliding in a wind tunnel, and computed the components of aerodynamic drag from the wake. We found that induced drag was mainly affected by wingspan, but also that the use of the tail has a negative influence on span efficiency. Contrary to previous work, we found no support for the separated primaries being used in controlling the induced drag. Profile drag was of similar magnitude to that reported in other studies, and our results suggest that profile drag is affected by variation in wing shape. For a folded tail, the body drag coefficient had a value of 0.2, rising to above 0.4 with the tail fully spread, which we conclude is due to tail profile drag.


  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Aerodynamics
  • Biomechanics
  • Gliding flight
  • Particle image velocimetry
  • PIV
  • Wind tunnel
  • Wing morphology


  • ISSN: 0022-0949
Kajsa Warfvinge
E-mail: kajsa [dot] warfvinge [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Doctoral student

Evolutionary ecology



Centre for Animal Movement Research
Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology
Ecology building S-223 62 Lund Sweden