Low speed maneuvering flight of the rose-breasted cockatoo (Eolophus roseicapillus). I. Kinematic and neuromuscular control of turning

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Maneuvering flight has long been recognized as an important component of the natural behavior of many bird species, but has been the subject of little experimental work. Here we examine the kinematics and neuromuscular control of turning flight in the rose-breasted cockatoo Eolophus roseicapillus (N=6), testing predictions of maneuvering flight and control based on aerodynamic theory and prior kinematic and neuromuscular studies. Six cockatoos were trained to navigate between two perches placed in an L-shaped flight corridor, making a 90 degrees turn midway through each flight. Flights were recorded with three synchronized high-speed video cameras placed outside the corridor, allowing a three-dimensional reconstruction of wing and body kinematics through the turn. We simultaneously collected electromyography recordings from bilateral implants in the pectoralis, supracoracoideus, biceps brachii and extensor metacarpi radialis muscles. The cockatoos maneuvered using flapping, banked turns with an average turn radius of 0.92 m. The mean rate of change in heading during a complete wingbeat varied through the turn and was significantly correlated to roll angle at mid-downstroke. Changes in roll angle were found to include both within-wingbeat and among-wingbeat components that bear no direct relationship to one another. Within-wingbeat changes in roll were dominated by the inertial effects while among-wingbeat changes in roll were likely the result of both inertial and aerodynamic effects.


Hedrick, T LBiewener, A AengResearch Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.England2007/05/23 09:00J Exp Biol. 2007 Jun;210(Pt 11):1897-911.