Comparison of wing morphology in three birds of prey: correlations with differences in flight behavior.

Journal of morphology

PubMedID: 16477604

Corvidae EL, Bierregaard RO, Peters SE. Comparison of wing morphology in three birds of prey: correlations with differences in flight behavior. J Morphol. 2006;267(5):612-22.
Flight is the overriding characteristic of birds that has influenced most of their morphological, physiological, and behavioral features. Flight adaptations are essential for survival in the wide variety of environments that birds occupy. Therefore, locomotor structure, including skeletal and muscular characteristics, is adapted to reflect the flight style necessitated by different ecological niches. Red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) soar to locate their prey, Cooper's hawks (Accipiter cooperii) actively chase down avian prey, and ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) soar and hover to locate fish. In this study, wing ratios, proportions of skeletal elements, and relative sizes of selected flight muscles were compared among these species. Oxidative and glycolytic enzyme activities of several muscles were also analyzed via assays for citrate synthase (CS) and for lactate dehydrogenase (LDH). It was found that structural characteristics of these three raptors differ in ways consistent with prevailing aerodynamic models. The similarity of enzymatic activities among different muscles of the three species shows low physiological differentiation and suggests that wing architecture may play a greater role in determining flight styles for these birds.