Variation in kinematics and dynamics of the landing flights of pigeons on a novel perch

P. R. Green, P. Cheng

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    37 Citations (Scopus)


    Pigeons made 10 flights to a novel perch. Kinematic measurements of these flights were obtained from video recordings, and the forces exerted on the perch on each landing were measured. There was wide variation (20-fold range) in the kinetic energy of the pigeons just before landing, arising almost entirely from variation in horizontal velocity. The maximum force exerted on the perch varied in magnitude from approximately twice to eight times the pigeons' body weight, and in direction from 40 to 90°below the horizontal. In landings with high final kinetic energy, the maximum force exerted on the perch was larger and was applied at a shallower angle than in those with low final kinetic energy. Landing flights with high final kinetic energy showed straighter trajectories and a larger peak deceleration during the last 300 ms of approach flight than those with low final kinetic energy, which had downward-curving trajectories and a more prolonged and steady pattern of deceleration. Mean final kinetic energy was lower in the first two landings made on the perch than in subsequent landings, indicating that pigeons are more likely to adopt a slow, downward-curving approach to a novel perch and a fast, straight approach to a familiar one.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3309-3316
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
    Issue number24
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


    • Columba livia
    • Flight
    • Force
    • Kinematics
    • Kinetic energy
    • Landing
    • Pigeon


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