# How would a bird's flight change entering the zero gravity axis of an O'neil cylinder?

This question on space stack begins to tackle how a bird could fly inside an O'Neill cylinder, https://space.stackexchange.com/questions/27665/can-birds-fly-inside-an-oneill-cylinder.

Here is the video mentioned in the question of birds attempting to fly in zero G https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4sZ3qe6PiI&feature=youtu.be

The video shows that they can fly in zero gravity, although they seem quite disorientated.

As the above answer points out the birds should fly as normal from take off from the ground where artificial gravity from the spin of the cylinder will take affect like gravity on earth, flying with or against the spin will have interesting effects causing the bird to either dive or hover, but it is the bird flying directly through the zero gravity central axis or along the axis that I am interested in for this question.

How would their flight change as they enter the central zero gravity axis area? and assuming they had lived inside the habitat for some time and had gotten used to the environment. Would they have trouble in this area and avoid it, would they dive through it with their momentum from earlier, could they even take advantage of the area somehow?

• – L.Dutch
Feb 21, 2020 at 13:15
• I don't think this question can be answered at the moment because it is mostly about bird-neurology and we don't have enough experience with birds in microgravity to give a definite answer. Feb 21, 2020 at 13:48
• My pet bird is smart and observant. I have no doubt that she would figure it out. She might quite like it there. Feb 21, 2020 at 14:45
• @Dragongeek have birds been taken into the vomit comet? Edit: youtu.be/w4sZ3qe6PiI
– BMF
Feb 21, 2020 at 19:56
• @BMFForMonica yes, but vomit comet flight experiences are very short and in a small space. I would expect birds raised in an O'Neill cylinder or in microgravity to fly much differently. Feb 21, 2020 at 21:58

How would their flight change as they enter the central zero gravity axis area?

Once they're accustomed to it, I expect they'd flap their wings less often, since they don't need the lift to stay in the air.

Would they have trouble in this area and avoid it?

Assuming there is air up there, I expect they'd be fine. Most likely "flight" in the region (again, once they figure out what they're doing) would be more like penguins swimming. Like in the video, they probably won't maintain a particular orientation. (Again, I believe this is already the case for penguins.)

Would they dive through it with their momentum from earlier?

Would they need to? I don't see any reason why, unless the air is really thin. (If it is, they would probably avoid the center, treating it as 'too high to fly'.)

Could they even take advantage of the area somehow?

Yes! In fact (again, if there is air), I can't imagine that they wouldn't take advantage of a space where they don't need to exert themselves much to stay aloft. Terrestrial birds already do this with updrafts ("thermals").

• Thermals is interesting, because a lot of bird of prey use thermals to hover looking for targets then dive out of them, that wouldn't work in this case though as wings folded you still float. Feb 21, 2020 at 18:38
• That's actually a really interesting point! This wouldn't totally not work, but a bird floating around in the center would have to first make an effort to swim out, and a dive would take longer to build up speed. I'm really curious now how a bird of prey would adapt to such a situation... At least starting the dive would be much more active. Feb 21, 2020 at 18:52