Perhaps no living thing has captured man’s imagination more than birds and their ability to fly. They seem so free as they swoop and soar in the sky above. Many of us have wished we could fly like a bird.
Birds have inspired men to dream of flying for thousands of years.
In Greek mythology there is the story of Icarus. He lived on the island of Crete and longed to escape the confines of the island. Icarus’s father Daedalus was a master craftsman who made wings of feathers and wax for his son. Icarus strapped on the wings and began to fly. His father warned him not to fly too close to the sun because the wax would melt. Icarus ignored his father’s warning and flew high in the air, the sun’s heat melted the wax, the wings fell apart and Icarus fell to the earth and was killed.
Five hundred years ago, one of the world’s greatest geniuses, Leonardo da Vinci, drew detailed plans of flying machines. In 1783, two men in Paris achieved flight in the first recorded hot air balloon flight. One hundred and twenty years later, the Wright brothers made their historic flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Today, man is flying all over the world in huge jet airplanes. Others are flying with hang gliders, parasails, and ultralights. A select few have braved flight beyond our planet into outer space and the moon.
Yet none of the methods that man uses to fly can compare the marvelous design of birds. Their complex design works together in perfect harmony to make flight possible.
Consider the beautiful while turtle dove.
First, it’s designed to be as light as possible. The bones of dove and other birds are not only strong, but they are mostly hollow. When you look at a cross section of the bones, you will see a series of supports called struts that interlace the hollow center.
Engineers have adopted this same design to build things like airplane wings and steel girders used in construction of bridges, and buildings. This design is ideal for maximum strength and minimum weight, both necessary designs for flight. If bird’s bones were like those of mammals, they would be too heavy to fly.
In addition to being lightweight, birds are well-balanced for flight. The largest part of their weight is centered under the wings. Move the main portion of their weight a little forward or backward and they would be too off balance to fly.
If you have ever eaten chicken or have seen a turkey roasted for a holiday dinner, you know that the breast muscles are the largest muscles in birds that fly. These powerful muscles pull the wings downward with enough force to lift them off the ground and sustain flight. Instead of relying on equally strong muscles to pull the wings upward, birds have an ingenious pulley-like system for the task. If the breast muscles are too small, they wouldn’t have enough power to lift the bird off the ground. If the bird had equally large back muscles to lift the wings, the bird would be too heavy to fly.
Another design feature is the bird’s wishbone, also called the furcula, which means ‘little fork.’ The wishbone is formed by the fusion of the two clavicles which are the same bones that you call your collarbones. If you have ever tried to pull a wishbone with a friend you will know that they are strong and flexible. The wishbone is very important to birds as it keeps the force of the wing muscles from crushing the bird’s chest.
Birds require a high oxygen level, especially when flying. Using a diaphragm and ribs like we use to breathe with would not provide enough oxygen for the bird’s high metabolism. Miraculously, they have a high-performance breathing system that is unique in the animal world. Their muscles pump air directly into air sacs and hollow bones. This allows for a more efficient way of getting oxygen into the blood system. Their ribcage is held strong and rigid by the design of the fused bones and struts. Without this efficiently designed respiratory system, birds would not have enough oxygen in their blood to fly.
The most important design feature of birds is their feathers. They are extremely lightweight and strong. They provide a broad surface area for lift. The central shaft of the feather, called the rachis, is hollow, keeping them very lightweight. Feathers have a series of barbs the come off the central shaft similar to the leaves on a palm frond. Unlike the leaves of the palm frond that move separately in the wind, the barbs of a feather are attached to each other by a series of barbules made up of hooks and latches, very much like Velcro. Without the hollow central shaft, barbs held together by the barbules, the feather would not catch enough air and the bird would not be able to fly.
The feathers in the wings and tail not only provide the surface for flight, but they also control the bird’s navigation or direction it flies. Each feather on the wings and tail are constantly being adjusted to allow the bird to turn, go up, go down or just adjust for changes in the wind speed. At the base of each feather are individually controlled muscles that move and rotate each feather, changing the shape of the wing and tail as needed to help the bird maneuver where it wants to go. Without these special muscles, birds would not be able to fly up, down or turn.
Evolutionists want you to believe that some reptile evolved all of these unique features by random chance processes. If this is true, how would a transitional form between reptiles and birds breathe? Reptiles and birds have different respiratory systems. What would a half reptile and half bird system look like and how would it function?
Ironically, evolutionists believe that reptiles evolved before birds, and the Bible says that birds were created on Day 5 of Creation and reptiles were created on Day 6. This is another reason why you can’t believe in the Bible and evolution at the same time.
Every feature found in birds including their strong hollow bones, muscles in the chest, high-performance respiratory system and the feathers on their wings and tails, is perfectly designed for flight. There can be no doubt that birds are a testimony to God’s and His creation. Perhaps this is why birds, like the dove, have a special place in God’s world and Word. In Genesis 8, we read that Noah sent out a dove that brought back the olive branch. And in Matthew 3:16-17 we read:
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
By Ryan Jaroncyk
Illustrated by Lisa Sodera
Join Arkie the Archaeopteryx as he flies through an ancient jungle and meets many unique creatures that are also not missing links. This delightful adventure helps children look at the natural world through a biblical lens, giving glory to God.