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How on earth did they learn to fly?

Around 150 millions years ago, all the ingredients somehow fell into place for a new and revolutionary form of travel. A segment of dinosaurs developed a coating of feathers, apparently to protect them from the elements.  They had particularly strong forearms that could pump with great strength, and they were especially light for their size, helped by bones that came to be hollow.


Scientists have spent years trying to understand what happened next. While they still aren’t sure how, these creatures learned to lift off from the ground and take flight. A hundred million years later, when an asteroid is believed to have struck the earth, the dinosaurs that had mastered flight were only ones to survive.

Today, we take it for granted when we watch birds fly overhead. But if you look closely at the mechanics of flight, there’s nothing ordinary about it.

This Flying Lessons feature celebrates the beauty of flight. From the hummingbird’s miniature helicopter technique capable of flying backwards to breathtaking dive of the Osprey, birds have continued to develop their flying skills as the millennia have passed.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The gallery above includes a handful of our favorite photos of birds in flight. The gallery scrolls through the photos every 10 seconds, but if you’d like to pause on one, simply leave your cursor on the photo. We’ll change out flight photos from time to time to keep the feature fresh and worth coming back to visit.



The Wood Stork, which has held onto its dinosaur profile, flies over the Wakodahatchee wetlands in Delray Beach, Florida.

OUR NEW BOOK: “A Wing and a Prayer”

Can We Save Our Vanishing Birds?

“In this five-star journey into our birding history, present and future, the authors make clear that ultimately, it’s up to us — you and me — to care and to act.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune