Fitting a bird-shaped peg through a tiny hole

Bird wings come in a variety of shapes, from long and slender to short and rounded. These shapes affect how good the bird is at different types of flight: long and slender wings are good for soaring, while short and rounded wings are good for maneuverability.

House Wrens spend a lot of time flitting around in dense brush, so they need to be very maneuverable.

Short, rounded wing of a House Wren

(They don’t usually hold their wings that way – this was an injured bird I was caring for – but it’s the best wing-shape picture I have.)

Seabirds like Laughing Gulls, on the other hand, spend much of their day in the air on the lookout for food, so they need to be able to soar efficiently.

Long, narrow wings of Laughing Gulls

What if you’re a forest raptor who wants to catch and eat those maneuverable House Wrens (and all the other forest birds with stubby wings)? You have to be really maneuverable. And they are. Check out this incredible video of a Northern Goshawk demonstrating how you fit a large flying raptor through tiny, awkward gaps in the forest:

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