In vivo pectoralis muscle force-length behavior during level flight in pigeons (Columba livia)

Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) Science Article 3


For the first time, we report in vivo measurements of pectoralis muscle length change obtained using sonomicrometry combined with measurements of its force development via deltopectoral crest strain recordings of a bird in free flight. These measurements allow us to characterize the contractile behavior and mechanical power output of the pectoralis under dynamic conditions of slow level flight in pigeons Columba livia. Our recordings confirm that the pigeon pectoralis generates in vivo work loops that begin with the rapid development of force as the muscle is being stretched or remains nearly isometric near the end of the upstroke. The pectoralis then shortens by a total of 32% of its resting length during the downstroke, generating an average of 10.3

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