Does A Bird With 3 Or 4 Wings Exist?
Has It Ever Existed?

Did you know birds can migrate to other countries? That’s how strong their wings are. Keep reading to learn more about birds’ wings!

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Iñigo Navarro

July 04, 2021


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What’s This Post About?

If you have ever closely noticed a bird flying, you would agree with the fact that birds cover their thighs using their feathers and their scales to cover everything below their knee area.

However, there are a couple of cases in this regard too. For instance, birds who prey fly around in such a way that they give off an appearance known as ‘baggy trousers.’ But in most cases, birds mostly fly around with lower naked legs.

Well, not to burst your bubble, but the above-mentioned is not always the case. This case of the birds can be looked at from the dinosaur story.

Birds evolved from small two-legged dinosaurs that used to be covered in feathers. With time, the feathers on their arms became longer that transformed into flat vanes. These later on transformed into wings.

Birds with three or four wings do not exist. While birds are mainly known for their flying skills, they only use two wings to do so. However, with two wings in general, there are different types of wings, including soaring wings, high aspect ratio wings, high-speed wings, and elliptical wings.

birds in air

How Do Birds Fly?

Birds’ wings, by nature, are shaped in a way that forms the shape of an airfoil when they are ready to take a flight.

This happens due to the movement in the wings. As the bird moves ahead fighting the air, their wings curve and shape themselves in a way that causes the air to flow faster above the wing than below it.

The reason is that the faster the air is above, the easier it is to balance the pressure below. The quicker air at the top helps lower the pressure down, whereas the air below increases the pressure; these two steps help the birds draw and push upward.

multiple birds flying

This act of holding the bird up in the air is commonly known as lift. This happens when the bird keeps moving forward, facing the stiff wind.

The Different Types of Bird Wings

Birds have two wings that they use to fly. However, there are different types of wings a bird has. Keep reading to learn about every kind of bird wing.

Passive Soaring Wings

Passive soaring wings consist of long feathers. These spread out, creating slot shapes. These slots help catch columns of hot air known as thermals, which eventually allows birds to rise at higher levels of air.

These slots capture the energy that flows in the air from the lower wing to the upper wing while the shorter wings takeoff. The bald eagle is the perfect example of passive soaring wings.

bald eagle in flight

Active Soaring Wings

These wings are long and narrow. Active soaring wings allow the birds to fly without flapping their wings for an extended period. Most birds with functional soaring wings fly around based on wind currents than the passive soaring birds.

Birds like gulls and gannets have active, soaring wings. Such birds have long, narrow wings that are strongly structured. This helps them identify slight differences in wind speed that can help them over long distances without using a lot of energy.

gannet bird

Elliptical Wings

As the name suggests, elliptical wings are the ones shaped like an oval. These help birds maintain their high speed at short intervals. For example, elliptical wings help birds take tight steer moves while being at high speed. However, this high speed cannot be maintained.

Birds such as ravens, sparrows, crows, and blackbirds have elliptical wings. Some birds also have slightly elliptical wings that involve a high-aspect ratio.

crow flying

However, most birds with elliptical wings have a low-aspect ratio that allows them to fly in confined areas, where there is scarce vegetation.

High-Speed Wings

Birds with high-speed wings are incredibly fast. Such wings are often mistaken with active soaring wings. However, high-speed wings are long, pointed, and thin but still shorter than functional soaring wings.

As the name suggests, high-speed wings allow the birds to fly at a higher speed and maintain momentum, unlike elliptical wings. Birds such as swifts, sandpipers, and ducks have high-speed wings.

sandpiper bird

Hovering Wings

These wings are the smallest amongst all but also very quick. Hovering wings are pointed and do not flap like the other wings. Birds with flowing wings fly by propelling them through the air doing the “up and down” movement continuously at a rate of 70 times per second.

Moreover, hovering wings utilize a lot of bird’s muscular energy as they require a lot of fast movement.

hummingbird in air

If you want to notice birds closely and learn more about them and their wings, you can buy the Hanizi Bird Feeder to place it in your backyard and fill it up with bird seeds.

Hanizi Bird Feeder

Open the lid, put the wild bird or sunflower seeds into the bird feeder, close the lid, and then hang the bird feeder under the eaves or in the garden.

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Did The Birds Ever Have 3 Or 4 Wings?

Birds are commonly known as the successors of dinosaurs or an evolved species of dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were four-limbed creatures that initially originated from a five digit at the limb ends. These digits included the following, out of which some disappeared in most cases:

  1. Wings

  2. Hands

  3. Paws

  4. Flippers

According to other research, scientists were able to tell that birds evolved from a group of dinosaurs named mani raptors that were popular as ‘meat-eating animals’ creatures.

However, with time, most of these digits disappeared, and now, the birds have three numbers in each wing’s ends.

Looking at the scientific research, it’s safe to say that if birds evolved from dinosaurs, birds once had 3 or 4 wings.

large wings in air

Keep Reading!

Birds are one of the most intelligent animals. Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion regarding their wings; some say they have four, while most agree upon them having two wings.

According to scientific research, the confusion between the two is that birds are the successors of dinosaurs; hence, they once had four legs.

Modern-day birds do not have four wings. Instead, birds have four limbs; two legs and two wings. They fly using their two wings only. However, there are different types of wings, including passive soaring, high-aspect ratio, high-speed and elliptical wings.

Are you interested in reading another interesting post? I bet you would love to find out if birds can eat popcorn.

Can Birds Eat Popcorn? Popped or Unpopped? Read This!

Birds like to indulge in various kinds of food, but can popcorn serve as a treat for them? Keep on reading to find out.

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By Iñigo Navarro

Bird Watching USA

My name is Inigo and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Iñigo Navarro Picture

Iñigo Navarro

Bird Watching USA

My name is Inigo and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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