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Metal-Feathered Macaw Viability Part 1: How Can It Fly?


See this previous question to learn about the premise.

We now know, via this amazing answer, that a steel-feathered macaw can pretty much fly on its own. But wouldn't it be cool if it could actually fly as fast or faster than a regular macaw?

Diet: (Macaws normally eat seeds, nuts, fruits, palm fruits, leaves, flowers, and stems, but I'm upping their fruit intake for this.) They do gather at clay licks. (A clay lick is a riverbank of clay heavily saturated with minerals; the macaws will literally "lick" the clay to get salt and minerals.)

They are active and fly through trees searching for nuts, fruit, and seeds, mainly. Unlike regular macaws, they migrate, not due to temperature changes but to massive pressure changes in their environment caused by natural phenomena. They migrate about 5000 miles to reach their "other home," riding a draft of warm, wet air that follows them from the pressure fluctuations. But they don't cruise higher than 2000 feet.

They have just three predators:

  • Birds of prey with an unfortunate ability, considering that the macaws are made of metal: Birds of prey, of the eagle family, that conduct electricity to shoot lightning bolts. They have the natural speed/wing shape/etc of normal eagles, with the exception that (1) they shoot lightning and (2) their favorite food, ever, are metal-feathered macaws, since they get cooked and toasty inside their metal shells.

  • Caimans that can shoot concussive (stunning) blasts to a distance of about 30 meters, traveling at a rate of 10 meters per second. These have evolved to walk on land for long distances at high speeds.

  • And jaguars that can jump to about 10 meters up. (To defend my premise a little, the metal feathers help a little here, because the jaguar has to pin down the bird (Claws won't rip through metal feathers))

And most of them need to be able to evade them all (well, some macaws will fall prey to these predators, doubtless. And some jaguars might get surprised by a steel beak in the face.)

Assume 2 predators per square mile (for purposes of this question.) The predators are interchangably regular: 1/3 of all predators are caimans, 1/3 lightning-eagles, 1/3 will be jaguars.

I've seen two good diagrams on different wing shapes: This one: https://i.sstatic.net/b6ei6.png


and this similar one, which has slightly more description but less shapes. (Source).

But I'm not sure which wing shape is best for their life, or even if there might be some combination.


What would be the best wing shape for my macaw? One of these from the diagram, a different one, or an amalgamation of two or more wing types? Which ones, and what would they look like?

Thank you to those in the Sandbox for helping me develop this question.


1 Answer 1


Elliptical Wings

I think that these would be best, after reviewing your information on the birds. The main reason why I think this is that it would be useful as a counter-predator method.

If a metal animal is fried with lightning, then it's toast - literally. Therefore, armour or size isn't going to help it. It needs a way to not get hit in the first place. And a great way of doing that is to be able to quickly dodge the lightning bolts.

Stunning blasts are also almost definitely going to be fatal. Since the blasts' range is limited, if it has the reflexes and speed to get out of range in 3 seconds, then it can survive.

Assuming that your jaguars are ambush predators, sudden bursts of speed are ideal. If a jaguar catches a perching macaw off-guard, it doesn't have the time to go down a runway. Fast reflexes are also best here.

All of those skills can be accomplished with elliptical wings, which allow for high speed in short bursts, take-offs on short notice, and quick maneuvers.

The downside of this is that everyday flight will not be as graceful, with a lot of flapping, so long-distance travel is not an option. At first the diet threw me off, but there are birds - thrushes for example - that eat nuts and berries too and have elliptical wings.

I hope this answers your question, and good luck with your worldbuilding.

  • $\begingroup$ You have my +1, though I'm waiting a while to see if anyone else has another opinion. Good answer. $\endgroup$ Jun 27, 2018 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ @FoxElemental No problem, thanks for the vote. $\endgroup$
    – SealBoi
    Jun 27, 2018 at 15:14

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