The sight of birds flying in the beautiful blue sky may be something that’s natural and common for many of us. But not very often do we pause and think: how do birds actually fly? It just seems so effortless, yet we humans can’t do the same!
In Surah Al-Mulk, verse 19, Allah says:
أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا۟ إِلَى ٱلطَّيْرِ فَوْقَهُمْ صَـٰٓفَّـٰتٍۢ وَيَقْبِضْنَ ۚ مَا يُمْسِكُهُنَّ إِلَّا ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنُ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ بِكُلِّ شَىْءٍۭ بَصِيرٌ
“Have they not seen the birds above them, spreading and folding their wings? None holds them up except the Most Compassionate. Indeed, He is All-Seeing of everything.”
The mechanism behind bird flight is truly amazing.
Allah SWT has created birds with special characteristics that enable them to resist the force of gravity, and fly upward and forward. Birds have light, yet strong muscles in their wings. They also have what we call flight feathers. These flight feathers are typically long and strong. As the bird flaps its wings, these feathers push against the air. Birds flap their wings in a continuous flapping motion when they take off. Those who have read about aerodynamics might be able to relate this to the main forces involved in flight – lift (to move upward) and thrust (to move forward). The same forces apply in this case.
Another characteristic of the bird that enables it to fly in the air is its shape. A bird has a streamlined shape that makes it cut through the air easily, because of reduced air resistance. Their contour feathers are arranged in such a way that reduces friction to enable the bird to move forward with little effort.
You might have noticed that different types of birds fly differently. The way a bird flies is affected by the size and shape of the wings. Some birds can dart forward very fast. Others can glide in the air almost effortlessly, like an albatross. A hummingbird, on the other hand, can even stay in one place by beating its wings, very, very rapidly!
Do you know that a hummingbird can stay in one spot in the air by beating its wings between 12 to 90 beats per second?
Have you ever wondered how birds can change direction in the air mid-flight? This is largely due to the shape of the bird’s tail. The strong tail feathers actually help to the bird to maneuver in the direction that they’re flying to. They do this by twisting their tails when they fly.
The way that birds fly in accordance with the principles of aerodynamics is simply astonishing. Allah, Al-Musawwir (The Fashioner) has created and equipped flying birds with such incredible strength and abilities that enable them to fly in the most perfect manner.