Speed stability in birds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Solutions for the speed stability problem in bird flight at low speed are developed. Speed stability is usually considered not to exist in flapping flight at speeds below the speed of the minimum power required, and in gliding flight below the speed for maximum range. Approaches thus far for solving the speed stability problem are relating to a 1-degree-of-freedom model of the bird where the speed is regarded as the only motion variable involved. However, a speed deviation is inherently associated with a deviation in the height. In this paper, an expanded treatment with an appropriate mathematical model is presented. The expanded treatment is based on a 2-degree-of-freedom model of the bird. Thus, it is possible to account for the speed and the height changes. With this expanded treatment, it can be shown that there is speed stability in the gliding flight of birds, whether the speed is below the speed for maximum range or above. This also holds for flapping flight with regard to speeds below the speed of the minimum power required. Further, it is shown that there can be speed instability if the bird acts as a controller to suppress height deviations. For this purpose, a model of the bird acting as a controller is presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalMathematical Biosciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Bird flight
  • Drag curve
  • Power required curve
  • Speed stability


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