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This paper reviews recent results on the mechanics and aerodynamics of perching in a large bird of prey, the Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis. Data collected using onboard and high-speed video cameras are used to examine gross morphing of the wing planform by the flight muscles, and smaller-scale morphing of the wing profile by aeroelastic deflection of the feathers, Carruthers et al(1). Highresolution still images are used to reconstruct the shape of the wing using multi-station photogrammetry, and the performance of the measured wing profile is analysed using a panel code, Carruthers et al (2). In bringing these lines of research together, we examine the role of aeroelastic feather deflection, and show that the key to perching in birds lies not in high-lift aerodynamics, but in the way in which the wings and tail morph to allow the bird to transition quickly from a steady glide into a deep stall.

Original publication




Journal article


Aeronautical Journal

Publication Date





673 - 680