17 January 2010

Owl in flight


The silent flight of owls has long fascinated ornithologists. No other birds fly with such stealth... First, the leading edge, or primary feathers, on the owls' wings are serrated like a comb. Second, the trailing feathers on the back end of the wing are tattered like the fringe of a scarf. And third, the rest of the owls' wings and legs are covered in velvety down feathers... owls' tattered fringe feathers help to break up the sound waves that are generated as air flows over the top of their wings and forms downstream wakes...

...the silence allows owls to more efficiently use their ears, which are positioned asymmetrically in their skulls: One ear is higher and more forward than the other, and each is shaped slightly different... owls, because of their ears' asymmetry, hear sounds slightly differently through each ear. This allows the raptors to more accurately determine where a sound is coming from.
Credit, via.

19 comments:

  1. Looks like a near perfect teardrop shape--sleek!

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  2. Not particularly aerodynamic though

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  3. Actually it is aerodynamic -

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Airfoil.svg

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  4. Yeah - it's perfectly aerodynamic.

    That is so gorgeous, so amazing. Besides, I love the look of owls.

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  5. it does actually look like a teardrop

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  6. wish I could see it in 3d... what are the wings doing at other viewing angles?

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  7. tattered fringes? owls just copied that from the 787. i smell a lawsuit.

    http://chuck.goolsbee.org/images/787/engine.jpg

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  8. I'd love to know who took this beautiful photo. Would you post the photographer's name so that we can give proper credit? Thanks!

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  9. @Bill Mowat - a TinEye reverse image search yielded only four hits, including this one -

    http://vi.sualize.us/view/6653c47aebdea9922029134e570c3ccb/

    that claimed "copyright" - but I doubt that's the original source.

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  10. my three year old thought this was a fish.

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  11. Great pic, very cool.
    also FYI this blog doesn't render properly in google chrome.

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  12. Hi, Do you know who took this shot? thanks..chris

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  13. @ChrisO - I tried to find an original source, but neither the Reddit post or a TinEye reverse image search were any good in that regard.

    At this site (http://vi.sualize.us/view/6653c47aebdea9922029134e570c3ccb/) there is a copyright symbol, but it appears to be another photo aggregator, as does the site they link to as "original source."

    Perhaps the photographer will find this post and link to the source so I can post the credit.

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  14. This is an amazing shot and really interesting fact! I am fascinated by owls.

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