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Some hunting birds like to fly high above the forest, looking for prey. These birds have wide wings that look a bit jagged on the end—sort of like the edge of a knife. The feathers at the tips of eagles’ and vultures’ wings look like fingers sticking out. These help them catch rising air currents and soar into the clouds.
If you’re flying over the ocean, you don’t necessarily need speed. You need wings that can carry you a long, long way to the next landing site with little effort. The wings of albatrosses and seagulls fit the bill. They’re long and wide to catch the sea breezes. Many birds can fold their wings and—splash!—dive into the water after a fish if they are hungry.
Swifts and many other birds chase insects. So they have long, narrow wings that look pointed on the ends like fighter planes. This gives them super speed so they can zip through the air in search of a speedy meal.
Many of the birds at your backyard bird feeder have short, rounded wings. Those are perfect for flitting from a branch to the ground, snatching worms or insects . . . and avoiding any hungry hawks.