Lentink Lab Messages | Archive

Credit: Chris 73

eLife & Nature: How birds find grip to land

Our recent research on the strategies birds use to land and perch on complex surfaces got published in eLife and featured in a Nature News & Views article The research by Will Roderick and Diana Chin shows how birds approach complex perches stereotypically and adapt their foot-surface interactions upon contact by feeling them out. To find grip, birds squeeze harder to grasp surfaces less, trading-off reliable toepad friction with stochastic latching onto asperities with their curling claws. Remarkably, the birds preshape their feet right before contact when landing becomes imminent, and their claws slip superfast within milliseconds to secure asperities to latch on to on slippery surfaces. The research forms inspiration for aerial robots, which are currently confined to landing on a few well-defined flat landing surfaces, while birds can land anywhere.