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Word of the Week: Undulating
April 02, 2021 by Haya Aldoori

Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

American Goldfinch

Undulating [UHN-juh-leyt-ting] (verb): To have a continuous up and down shape or movement, like waves on the sea.

This fun word comes from the Latin word “unda” which means “a wave.”

Flight patterns are a great tool to use to help identify a bird and are definitely worth remembering along with all the other details about a species. A common flight pattern observed in nature is undulating flight! This pattern describes a kind of rollercoaster style where the bird flaps its wings in short bursts during the rising phase, then glides into a relatively long freefall as it descends into the valley of the wave, by folding its wings. Slight changes of direction with each burst of wingbeats can give the undulating movement a subtle zigzag path. When approaching a landing the birds who have this flight pattern will swoop, give just one or two correcting or braking wing flaps, and then grab the perch.

Birds like American Goldfinches and woodpeckers can be seen in High Park, using this pattern of flight.

On your next Spring visit to High Park, keep an eye out for birds with undulating flight!

To learn more about birds with the High Park Nature Centre, check out our “Birds of the City” Online Naturalist Course for adults!

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