Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC San Diego

UC San Diego Electronic Theses and Dissertations bannerUC San Diego

Avian Wing Bones


Nearly all species of modern birds are capable of flight; therefore mechanical competency of appendages and the rigidity of their skeletal system must be optimized. Birds have developed extremely lightweight skeletal systems that help aid in the generation of lift and thrust forces as well as helping them maintain flight over a long period of time. The wing bones of different species of birds, the California Gull, Pekin Duck, Turkey Vulture, and Common Raven have been analyzed. The structures found within these bones vary from species to species depending on how a particular species utilizes its wings. The California Gull and Turkey Vulture both exhibited struts and/or ridges within their wing bones while the wing bones of the Common Raven were complete hollow. In addition, from optical and Scanning Electron Microscope observation, the wing bones contain similar micro-structure to those of other mammalian long bones. These micro-structures are arranged in osteons located in the compact region of the whole bone. Mineral content analysis was done on the wing bones of each species studied and the data showed that the mineral content in all species studied, except for the Pekin Duck, were similar to the mineral content found in bovine long bone Furthermore, looking at the hardness testing data for the gull, vulture, and raven, and comparing it with the flying habits and size of these birds, it can be seen that the struts and ridges may be playing a role in helping to reinforce the gull and vulture wing bones. This work is funded by the NSF, Ceramics Program Grant 1006931

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View