Bird Speed Much Exaggerated, Daily Racing Form, 1919-11-14


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BIRD SPEED MUCH EXAGGERATED The bird hunter, particularly of the duck-shooting variety, is apt to get a bit careless with Ids chatter of the speed of the game bird. Miles per hour are scattered around with the lavish hand that marks the apportioning of Indies to the length bf tish when the fishing clan foregather. Most of the duck hunters are persuaded that a duck coming down wind is something like two wing strokes behind Sudden Death, but several jumps ahead of a streak of lightning in speed. A hundred miles an hour is apparently u handy figure on which to pile still more figures or occnsionnlfy to cut down a bit. While a gale boosting at the tail feathers of a duck, that is a swift duck anyhow, does add perceptibly to the speed of the bird, yet there is "no record of the marvelous speed claimed for game birds under ordinary conditions. There is used in ballistic science an instrument called the chronograph, which in the form most used consists of a weight held up by an electro-magnet. A spring-impelled knife blade is held by another magnet in such fashion that if released it springs out and marks a coating of soot first applied to the weight. First a mark is made in the sqot in the weight opposite the knife. When the bullet or charge of shot goes through a screen of wires connected with the magnet holding the weight and placed at the muzzle of the gun, the wires are cut, and the weight starts to fall. When the bullet or shot charge passes through the" second screen of wires, say, ninety feet from the muzzle, the cutting of the wires permits the knife to fly out and mark the falling weight. Then the distance between the marks on the weight is measured and, as heavy weights fall a short distance always at the same speed, it is easy to translate the d"istan,ccr between these marks into time, and so to" find how loug the bullet took to cross the space between the screens. A canny Britisli ballistic shark rigged up a pair of such screens much closer together, and made them of fine silk and w;ire. The gallery, had a lighted end and a dark one. Various Britisli game birds were released back of the screens, promptly flying for the light at the end of the gallery, and so their speed was taken by the chronograph just as is the bullet. A dozen tough "blue rock" pigeons, birds living In the rocky cliffs of England and much used for old-time live birds, recorded .thirty-three miles an hour, or fifty feet per second, for the fastest one, twenty-six miles an hour for the slowest one. Out hi the open, flying over measured course and timed with stop watch, the fastest pigeon registered twenty-seven miles an hour. British pheasants, bred purposely for shooting and noted for their speed and rocketing flight, flew through the chronograph at the rate of 33.8 miles an hour,, maximum. Out in the open one bird made thirty-eight miles, or fifty-six feet per second. Partridges, much like our Bob White, made from 20 to 34.r miles an hour through the chronograph, and in the open ranged from 27.0 to 32 miles an hour, or forty to forfy-two feet per second. The average of twelve carrier pigeon races in England and the continent, ranging from eighty-seven to 309 miles, showed an average of thirty-six miles an hour. The fastest bird flew fifty-five miles , an hour, the slowest in all the races, hut still a winner, fifteen miles an hour. Doubtless the difference was due to wind force and direction. These are the fastest birds possible to breed, and developed for winning races. Capt. E. C. Grossman in American Field.

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