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Journal Article

Optimal Flight Speed in Birds when Feeding Young

R. Ake Norberg
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 50, No. 2 (Jun., 1981), pp. 473-477
DOI: 10.2307/4068
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4068
Page Count: 5
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Optimal Flight Speed in Birds when Feeding Young
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Abstract

(1) From the theory of bird flight energetics (due mainly to Pennycuick) I derive a simple model which identifies the flight speed of breeding birds that results in most food for the young. I consider only flights between foraging areas and the young, with no foraging during travel flights. (2) A parent bird trying to maximize amount of food delivered to its young should fly faster, at the penalty of increased energy expenditure on travel, than the maximum range speed (which involves minimum energy cost per unit distance flown). Regardless of the distances flown, birds should increase speed as long as the concomitant increment in travel costs can be more than compensated by foraging in the travel time saved. (3) The higher the food availability and, hence, the rate of net energy gain during foraging, the higher the optimal speed during travel flights. This prediction is testable without knowledge of the bird's power-v.-speed curve or its maximum range speed.

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