“Birds can dynamically alter the shape of their wings during flight, although the way this is accomplished is poorly understood,” the researchers wrote in one of the studies they published. Hence, they used dead pigeons to study how birds bend and extend their wings to change shape.
What they found is that the angle of a bird’s wrist and finger determines the alignment of its flying feathers and, therefore, the shape of its wings. It is by joining the wrist and the finger or by moving them away that the pigeons can handle tight turns and fly through the turbulence. The researchers then used this knowledge to build a remote-controlled robot pigeon – they even used real feathers for the machine.
Scientists could use the machine to study bird flight. Any future discoveries can then be used to build even better drones that can reach places and fly in conditions that most standard unmanned flight systems cannot.