The near wake of a freely flying European starling

Adam J. Kirchhefer, Gregory A. Kopp, Roi Gurka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The wake of a freely flying European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) has been measured using high speed, time-resolved, particle image velocimetry, simultaneously with high speed cameras which imaged the bird. These have been used to generate vector maps that can be associated with the bird's location and wing configuration in the wind tunnel. Time series of measurements have been expressed as composite wake plots which depict segments of the wing beat cycle for various spanwise locations in the wake. Measurements indicate that downwash is not produced during the upstroke, suggesting that the upstroke does not generate lift. As well, the wake velocities imply the presence of streamwise vortical structures, in addition to tip vortices. These two characteristics indicate similarities between the wake of a bird and the wake of a bat, which may be general features of the wakes of flapping wings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number051902
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number5
StatePublished - 20 May 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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