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an birds fly upside down? © Getty Images

Can birds fly upside down?

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Birds are masters of aviation, capable of aerobatic manoeuvres that could rival any stunt pilot.

Asked by: Steven Jenkins, Bognor Regis

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A bird’s wing feathers are mounted like slats on a venetian blind. They only lock together to form a solid aerofoil against airflow from below. If they fly upside down, the feathers rotate open and let the air through. But geese do use a manoeuvre called ‘whiffling’ where they roll their body upside down and twist their neck to keep their head the right way up. This lets them rapidly lose speed and height for a fast landing.


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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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