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Wind Tunnel for Birds 126

Posted by Hemos
from the flying-through-the-tunnel dept.
bgood writes "'What, a swallow, carrying a coconut? ...' The Department of Animal Ecology at the University of Lund in Sweden uses a modern low-speed wind tunnel specially crafted for bird experiments. The birds are trained to fly in the 'test-section' and the tunnel can be tilted up or down to simulate ascent and descent. This link contains plenty of detail, complete with bird pictures. For those of you who yearn to build your own (non-bird-compliant) wind tunnel, you can find instructions in this Scientific American article."
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Wind Tunnel for Birds

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  • Eagles (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @04:16AM (#2550265)

    One of the most interesting things I ever saw in a nature flick was a clip of an eagle grabing a big fish out of a lake. The fish was so big that the eagle was only able to gain altitude very slowly.

    But the interesting thing was the way the eagle handled the fish. It came up from the water with the fish turned sideways in its two feet, but over a period of several seconds it shuffled its grip on the fish and turned it pointing forwards, the way a fish swims in the water -- presumably to reduce the aerodynamic drag on it.
  • MRI (Score:3, Interesting)

    by threaded (89367) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @04:58AM (#2550323) Homepage
    This method only displays the surface information.

    If they could fix up an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine they could also get information on muscle use and blood flow.

    Now that would be neat.
  • Excuse me (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Penis Bird Guy (204613) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @05:02AM (#2550329) Homepage
    Can you direct me to the ladies' room?
  • by dhogaza (64507) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @12:22PM (#2550863) Homepage
    An interesting finding made by these guys that I didn't see mentioned on the site is in regard to flight efficiency in migratory shorebirds.

    As someone mentioned above, shorebirds have an amazing ability to pig down and generate a lot of muscle and fat in a very short period of time (a large fraction of their body weight in 24-48 hours).

    So - are they more efficient when their tank's full or empty, i.e. heavy after "refueling" or light as after a long stint in the air (they're known to migrate hundreds of miles between stops).

    The reference I saw a few days ago says the answer, measured in this wind tunnel, is that they're more efficient when their tank's full (so to speak).

    The studying of the physiology of migratory shorebirds may be important for conservation, too. There are generally limited areas in which shorebirds concentrate to feed on migration. While some migrate inland, in many species virtually all individuals migrate along the coast. And, of course, in most parts of the world coastal areas are under heavy developmental pressure. People like the beach, too...

    Examples of such concentration areas include Delaware Bay in the eastern United States and Bowerman Basin in the western US.

    And human use of natural resources also has an impact (in particular the harvesting of horsehoe crabs on the east coast, they're the source of some important chemical but I forget what exactly - we don't eat them, obviously!)

    More knowledge about the physiology of these species might help us predict the impacts of certain types of development or resource consumption.

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