Bird Droppings and Flight
Name: Ann D.
Date: Saturday, August 31, 2002
I once heard on a television program that geese are not
biologically able to release droppings while in flight and they must land in
order to do that and that is why they are so messy in parks and stuff. Is
this true? I have looked through several ornithology books and checked
several web sites, but nothing seems to make any reference to this.
Birds generally release their droppings while swimming or perched on the
ground or in a tree, etc. and not in flight. Muscles used in flying,
especially the muscles that control the tail feathers used in balance and
direction control, apparently inhibit the elimination process. Many birds
eliminate just as they take to flight and, I believe, this is a response to
the force of the contriction of some of the muscles used in flying.
There are exceptions I understand. The species in the albatross family with
huge wing span ratios that glide a great deal over extreme periods of time
seem to be one. There may be others, I'm sure, and most likely they will be
those birds that glide [with little muscle effort] rather than require a
continual powered flying effort such as the geese must perform in order to
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Update: June 2012