Heat transfer from starlings Sturnus vulgaris during flight

S Ward, J M Rayner, U Moller, D M Jackson, W Nachtigall, J R Speakman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

78 Citations (Scopus)


Infrared thermography was used to measure heat transfer by radiation and the surface temperature of starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) (N=4) flying in a wind tunnel at 6-14 m s(-1) and at 15-25 degrees C, Heat transfer by forced convection was calculated from bird surface temperature and biophysical modelling of convective heat transfer coefficients, The legs, head and ventral brachial areas (under the wings) were the hottest parts of the bird (mean values 6.8, 6.0 and 5.3 degrees C, respectively, above air temperature). Thermal gradients between the bird surface and the air decreased at higher air temperatures or during slow flight, The legs were trailed in the air stream during slow flight and when air temperature was high; this could increase heat transfer from the legs from 1 to 12% Of heat transfer by convection, radiation and evaporation (overall heat loss), Overall heat loss at a flight speed of 10.2 ms(-1) averaged 11.3 W, of which radiation accounted for 8% and convection for 81%. Convection from the ventral brachial areas was the most important route of heat transfer (19% of overall heat loss), Of the overall heat loss, 55% occurred by convection and radiation from the wings, although the primaries and secondaries were the coolest parts of the bird (2.2-2.5 degrees C above air temperature), Calculated heat transfer from flying starlings was most sensitive to accurate measurement of air temperature and convective heat transfer coefficients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1589-1602
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • flight
  • thermoregulation
  • infrared thermography
  • bird
  • starling
  • Sturnus vulgaris
  • TAIL
  • BATS


Dive into the research topics of 'Heat transfer from starlings Sturnus vulgaris during flight'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this