College of EngineeringDepartment of Aerospace EngineeringResearchSeminarsEventsDr. Tyson Hedrick, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Tyson Hedrick, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Biomechanics of Animal Flight in the Field
October 25, 2019


Over the past 7 years, the Hedrick lab group has developed and used field-portable high-speed 3D videography techniques to investigate the biomechanics and aerodynamics of birds engaged in natural flight behavior. Examples of this include bird-bird competitive chases, prey capture, and different kinds of flocking flight in groups of 100 to more than 1000 individuals. These measurements reveal the overall flight performance envelope for birds and provide insight into how flight capabilities interface with prey capture and aerial competition strategies. They also show how birds avoid collisions in dense flocks and even raise the possibility of energy-saving formation flight in large, globular-shape migratory bird flocks.


Dr. Tyson Hedrick

His research deals with the biomechanics of animal locomotion, especially animal flight in vertebrates and invertebrates. During his dissertation under Dr. Andrew Biewener at Harvard University, he used birds trained to fly in a wind tunnel and a combination of in-vivo muscle biomechanics, neuromuscular activity measurements, and high-speed video recordings to examine how birds modulate muscle power output with flight speed. As a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Thomas Daniel at the University of Washington and later as faculty at the UNC at Chapel Hill he became interested in animal flight control and stability and demonstrated how flight stability and aerodynamic damping scale in flapping flight using experimental data and mathematical models. His most recent work examines how birds use their underlying flight capabilities during natural behavior in short-timescale events such as intraspecific competition and prey capture.