Gaining a Swift Lift

The whirlpools of air that allow insects to fly may also help birds.

By Kate Ramsayer, 00:00 AM December 10, 2004

Watch a bird soar above the trees or swoop in for a graceful landing. It turns out that the same air movements that allow a mosquito to buzz around your ear or a ladybug to land on your shoulder may also help a bird fly.

Birds known as swifts hunt in the air, catching flying insects on the wing. To snag its prey, a swift has to be able to fly fast and make very tight turns, just like a jet fighter.

Birds known as swifts hunt in the air, catching flying insects on the wing. To snag its prey, a swift has to be able to fly fast and make very tight turns, just like a jet fighter.

© Science

When insects flap their wings, the air above the wings swirls around. Scientists descri...

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