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Owls fly for cameras in flight study
by Staff Writers
Aachen, Germany (UPI) Apr 26, 2011

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

German researchers say a couple of barn owls named Happy and Tesla, tracked by a moving camera system, are helping them learn about the secrets of bird flight.

The scientists have collected data from Happy, the older of the two, recording how an owl moves during gliding flight. They are now conducting studies with both Happy and Tesla of what happens as the birds beat their wings, said Thomas Wolf, a researcher at the German Aerospace Center's Institute of Aerodynamics and Flow Technology.

Owls were chosen as study subjects because they begin flying slowly, making tracking them with the moving camera system easier, reported Tuesday.

However, figuring out how a bird's wing changes shape during flight and during different flight patterns can be difficult, Wolf said, since the bird's path can't be predicted, even in a closed area as the bird flies toward food as a motivation.

"In some of the tests, the owl may fly slightly higher, or slightly lower; it all depends," Wolf Said. "Although this may cause difficulties, the owls should not be influenced in any way, since we want to ensure that the flight is as authentic as possible."

Eight video cameras record the owls' flight from above and below using a frame that moves along with the birds as the fly.

In addition to providing date about bird flight, Wolf and his colleagues said, the research may be applicable to small, unmanned aerial vehicles.


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DLR measures the shape of a barn owl wing in flight
Bonn, Germany (SPX) Apr 27, 2011
The flight of birds is still largely unexplored; in particular, the movements performed during the beat of a wing and the airflow around the wing remain a puzzle to scientists. The German Aerospace Center, in collaboration with RWTH Aachen University and the German Armed Forces University in Munich is addressing this question. Starting on 26 April 2011, the scientists will be photographing ... read more

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