18 August 2010
News on power curves
Summer is coming to an end and we have an autumn of activities to look forward to. As a starter, I would like to recommend a series of papers just out in the J Exp Biol, in which the mechanical power was measured in cockatiels. In three papers the researchers measured muscle work, compared muscle work with output from a aerodynamic model, and finally measure the flight metabolic rate to get conversion efficiency. The papers discuss all the difficulties and pitfalls, we are so well aware of, but they constitute a good and recent update on the subject. It is concluded that power consumption during flight must come from more than just the main flight muscles (Pectoralis major/supracoracoideus), otherwise the efficiency must be extremely low in the order of 10%, or so.