Can Wet Birds Fly?



Watch this osprey get fully submerged.


I find it amazing the bird has enough energy to take off as water-laden as it got.


Note the “rounded” wing flap necessary for enough lift to fully emerge and propel itself from the surface carrying not only the fish but a few pounds of water caught up in its feather (integumentary) system.



Towards the end of the video, watch the bird begin to straighten out the fish as it climbs higher to make it (the fish) more aerodynamic.


Birds have no muscles in their legs from thighs down.


There are 2 (flexor) tendons in each leg that act as an eloquent pulley system.


The foot closes as the ankle angle changes.


This why birds can sleep on one foot, the tendons lock.


Since there are no muscles, the feet and legs never get “tired.”


(above – Screech-owl foot post necropsy
using fish line to simulate flexor tendons)


A wiggling fish will slow things down and the bird is looking forward to eating sooner rather than later.


Predatory birds like this osprey use the tendon system to kill its prey by closing their huge talons into the fish’s body – “wiggle be gone”.


Find other answers to this question on Quora


As a counterpoint to this:


Unless you have been training your bird for free flight daily chances are the muscles driving its wings don’t have near the horsepower of an Osprey.


If you should have the unfortunate circumstance of your bird escaping and landing on the tree in front of your home, a prescribed method of recovery is to spray it with a garden hose.


Super saturated cockatiel


A saturated cockatiel can barely fly and will not gain altitude when saturated.


Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing

Mitch Rezman

He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they visited monthly birdie brunches in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.

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