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Birds

Computer simulation of a wing flex module

We tend to think of aeronautical engineering as having left the birds standing still sometime around the First World War, but since jet fighters can’t perch and quadcopters can’t snag salmon out of a stream, we still have a few things to learn. Taking a couple of pages from the avian playbook, Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems (ENAS) and its partners are developing wing flaps for airplanes that change shape like a bird’s wing for greater efficiency.  Read More

The Snapzoom allows a smartphone to take telephoto snapshots through a set of binoculars

Chances are that you already carry a smartphone with you wherever you go, and if you're a wildlife-watcher, hiker, or sporting-event spectator, then you likely also have a pair of binoculars. Well, the Snapzoom is a new product that brings those two devices together – it lets you get telephoto snapshots of distant subjects, by holding your phone's camera lens in alignment with one lens of your binoculars. I recently got a chance to try the thing out for myself, and liked what it had to offer.  Read More

The good ol' red, white and blue – turkeys show off their color-changing skin (Photo: Shut...

Turkeys may not be everyone's idea of beautiful birds, but they certainly have colorful skin on their heads. What's more, that skin changes color with the animal's mood. Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have now copied the process by which those color changes occur, and used it to create a biosensor that could be used to detect airborne toxins.  Read More

Would partly black turbines be safer for birds? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Four turbines at the Smøla wind farm in Norway are to have one rotor blade painted black to see whether increasing the visual contrast of the turbine against its background might help to reduce bird strikes.  Read More

Graduate student Thomas Savage envisions a sustainable hostel to house both birds and wate...

A student from Northumbria University has envisioned a sustainable hostel to house both birds and water sports enthusiasts in Blyth on the northeast coast of England. Positioned on dramatic sweeping beaches, a series of 9-story towers will provide protected nesting and bird watching areas in the winter, and transform into a communal campsite for water sports enthusiasts in the summer.  Read More

Researchers from the University of Maryland have built a new micro air vehicle dubbed Robo...

Researchers from the University of Maryland have built a new micro air vehicle dubbed Robo Raven that's such a convincing flyer, it's been attacked by a local hawk during testing. Though numerous other robotic birds have successfully taken to the skies in recent years, including Festo's visually stunning SmartBird, this featherless mechanical marvel is capable of impressive complex aerobatic maneuvers thanks to completely programmable wings that can flap independently of each other.  Read More

American cliff swallows building nests under a bridge

The American cliff swallow is best known for its yearly migration between North and South America, traditionally resulting in the annual return of the swallows to Mission San Juan Capistrano in Southern California on March 19. Now it seems they also provide a lesson in the workings of natural selection. A three-decade long study carried out by a husband and wife ornithological team in western Nebraska has, thanks to long years of carefully recording all available data, shown that roadkill has exerted a selective advantage on swallows with shorter wingspans.  Read More

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