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Birds

Science

Electronic eggs aid vulture rescue efforts

There's an old saying that goes: "If you want to know the vulture, be like one of his eggs." OK, that's not even remotely an old saying, but it is at least part of the thinking of a new initiative that will see a batch of artificial electronic eggs called "EggDuinos" getting plopped in the nests of vultures in order to study their habitats.Read More

Environment

Backpack-wearing pigeons tweet London air quality readings

Wondering what the air quality is like in London? Well, over the next three days, you can ask a pigeon. More specifically, you can tweet your location to 10 pigeons located throughout the city, each one of which is equipped with a lightweight backpack that monitors ozone, nitrogen dioxide and volatile compounds. You'll receive a tweet back, letting you know just how safe it is to breathe the air in your region.Read More

Biology

Cornell software identifies bird species from users' photos

While there are already plenty of apps that help birdwatchers identify birds, most of them work by searching a database based on descriptions. Cornell University and the Visipedia research project's Merlin Bird Photo ID program, however, goes further – it utilizes computer vision tech to identify birds pictured in user-supplied photos.Read More

Drones

Bird-inspired self-folding wings could help drones recover from collisions

If you've ever watched a flying bird weaving its way through a forest, you may have wondered how it could do so without hitting its wings on the trees. Well, birds actually do hit trees with their wings. Unlike the rigid wings of an aircraft, however, birds' wings simply fold back under impact, then immediately fold open again to maintain flight. Now, scientists from Stanford University have developed wings for flapping-wing drones that do the same thing. Read More

Drones

Bird-inspired system could result in smoother flights

Turbulence can be unpleasant enough for passengers in full-sized aircraft, but it's even more of a challenge for unmanned micro air vehicles (MAVs) – a good gust can blow one of the little drones completely off course, or even cause it to crash. That's why a team from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, has looked to birds for a solution. The result is a system that detects turbulence before it buffets the MAV, allowing the aircraft to anticipate it and thus maintain a smoother flight. The technology could also be applicable to regular airplanes. Read More

Aircraft

Robotic raptors look and fly like the real thing

Birds that stray into the paths of aircraft, eat crops, or spread disease from foraging in large numbers at landfills are, at best, a nuisance and, at worst, downright dangerous. Over the years people have tried everything from scaring them away with loud noises to trapping them – all with varying results. Now a designer from the Netherlands has come up with robotic birds of prey that look and fly exactly like the real thing.Read More

Aircraft

Shape-changing wings inspire more efficient aircraft designs

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

Digital Cameras Review

Review: Snapzoom binocular adapter for smartphone cameras

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

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