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Getting into the air is not easy.

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For many birds it is by far the most exhausting
bit of the whole business of flight.

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But these shearwaters here in Japan
have adopted a very labour-saving way...

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WhoopsΞ There we go,
a labour-saving way of doing so.

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They've taken to climbing trees.

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This particular tree is by far
the most suitable for the take-off,

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and that bird may have come
from as far as 30 or 40 yards away,

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wandering across the forest floor
in order to climb it and get to the launch pad.

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There's another.

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40 feet up, a bend in the trunk
makes a perfect platform for a take-off.

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These shearwaters
will spend most of their lives in the air.

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They are true seabirds.
They only come to land in order to nest.

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This particular species is
exceptional in nesting in woodland,

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most of them nest right on the edge of cliffs

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and all of them get into the air
by the simple method of simply falling into space.

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The land birds, on the other hand,
have much greater problems.

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Most of them have to be able to get into the air
from the ground with a standing start.

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And that takes a lot more energy.

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A pigeon begins by jumping vertically upwards.

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As it leaves the ground,
it opens its wings and sweeps them forward,

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fanning the air downwards with maximum force.

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The second stroke must be equally vigorous,
pushing the bird upwards.

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If now it leans forward
and starts to go ahead.

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But the effort involved has been huge.

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Birds only a little bigger than a pigeon
can't do this twice in quick succession.

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And a bird as big as an albatross
can't do it at all.

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It has to use yet another way
of getting into the air.

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It taxies, along a runway.

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It's a method we use too, in our machines.

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For the majority of birds
the most exhausting part of flight is now over.

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Those shearwaters achieved it by climbing trees,
the pigeon jumped and flapped,

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and aeroplanes and albatross did it by running
and creating a flow of air over their wings.

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When they do actually get into the air,
a bird's flight seems almost effortless.

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And when you watch
a really superb flyer like these albatross,

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then they seem to be defying
[...]
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