If You Could Fly like a Bird

From earliest times, people have dreamed of flying like a bird. Wouldn't you like to just flap your arms and fly? But birds' entire bodies, not just their wings, are built specially for flight. So to fly like a bird, you'd have to make a few changes, and you might end up looking, well, kind of like a bird.

You'll need really big eyes to judge distances accurately for landings and to see the ground clearly from the sky.

Teeth are way too heavy. Trade yours in for a nice lightweight beak, and while you're at it, get rid of that nose. To fly well, your entire body needs to be smooth and streamlined.

You'll need feathers on your arms, of course. But your arms will have to be extra long to support your weight. A bald eagle has a 7-foot wingspan but weighs less than 15 pounds. A 60-pound kid would need wings nearly 75 feet wide!

It takes a lot of muscle to keep those giant arms flapping. If, like a bird, your flight muscles were in your chest, your chest would have to be about 5 feet deep!

You'll need a tail to help you steer and land.

If you can fly, why walk? And if you're not walking much, you won't need big, strong legs. To stay lightweight for flying, you'll be better off with short, skinny bird legs.

Vocabulary

  • accurate: Exactly right.
  • streamlined: Made simpler and more efficient.

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Activity

  1. Name a kind of bird that cannot fly. What does this bird's body look like? Why might the bird not be able to fly?
    [anno: Answers will vary but could include a penguin or an ostrich. Students' reasons may include that the bird's body is too heavy for its wings to lift.]