Flight speeds of some British Columbia birds

Kyle Elliott1 and Gary Kaiser2

1657-202 Street, Langley, BC V2Z 1V7; e-mail: haliaeetus@gmail.com
2Royal British Columbia Museum, 675 Belleville Street, Victoria, BC, Canada V8W 9W2; e-mail: gansus@shaw.ca

Abstract: Flight speeds of many birds remain unknown, or are known only from one or two localities. We present data on flight speeds for 34 species of birds from British Columbia. For birds with sample sizes greater than one, the slowest average flight speed (22 km·hr-1) was for Vaux’s Swift (Chaetura vauxi) and the highest average flight speed (85 km·hr-1) was for Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) during pre-incubation. Observations of the same species using marine radar were usually consistent, but tended to be much higher than studies using Doppler radar. This may be an artifact of location as Doppler radar tended to be used in terrestrial environments and marine radar over water, where birds may fly faster. Across bird species, flight speed was mostly explained by wingloading, and increased with wingloading 0.27. The low value of this exponent suggests that muscle efficiency may also vary with body mass. We encourage anyone with access to radar to measure flight speeds of more birds.

Key words: Flight speed, marine radar, Doppler radar, allometry, wingloading, British Columbia

PDFicon Elliott, K. and G. Kaiser. 2009. Flight speeds of some British Columbia birds. British Columbia Birds 19:2-5.


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