Wingtips

A head-on view of a soaring bald eagle

Just your typical “Say, you didn’t bring any of your delicious cats with you, did you?” bald eagle flyby.

This young bald eagle had been heading in a direction to take it over to my left but it changed course and headed straight toward me. This was the last picture I could take showing its full body as with its long wings it was already wingtip-to-wingtip in the frame. The eagle was flying much too fast for me to change lenses as it flew closer, and it did fly quite close to my car before turning to follow the edge of the lake.

I’ve noticed many times before how the birds that soar above Ridgefield’s meadows and lakes have their flight feathers spread apart at the wingtips, both vertically (as you can see in this head-on view) and horizontally, but this time I was finally compelled to do a little reading to see if there was a benefit to it or if the birds lacked the structures necessary to keep them locked together under the pressures of flight. It appears that the spread feathers affect the vortices that form behind the wings when they’re providing lift, reducing drag as the bird soars through the air.

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