Two Harris' hawks were trained to fly along horizontal and climbing flight paths, while carrying loads of various masses, to provide data for estimating available muscle power during short flights. The body mass of both hawks was about 920 g, and they were able to carry loads up to 630 g in horizontal flight. The rate of climb decreased with increasing all-up mass, as also did the climbing power (product of weight and rate of climb). Various assumptions about the aerodynamic power in low-speed climbs led to estimates of the maximum power output of the flight muscles ranging from 41 to 46 W. This, in turn, would imply a stress during shortening of around 210 kPa. The effects of a radio package on a bird that is raising young should be considered in relation to the food load that the forager can normally carry, rather than in relation to its body mass.
Additional Publication Details
Climbing performance of Harris' hawks (Parabuteo unicinctus) with added load: Implications for muscle mechanics and for radiotracking