Owls are fascinating creatures that have long captured the attention of humans. With their striking eyes and silent flight, they are both beautiful and deadly predators.
Recently, BBC Earth conducted an experiment comparing the flight of owls to that of pigeons and Peregrine Falcons, and the results were impressive.
Using a slow-motion camera and hypersensitive microphones, the experiment showed that while pigeons and Peregrine Falcons produced heavy flapping noise, the Barn Owl produced virtually no sound.
This is due to a combination of factors, including the shape of their feathers and the size of their wings relative to their body.
Owls have a leading edge on their feathers shaped like a comb and a trailing edge with a fringe, which funnel air smoothly over the wing and dampen the sound.
Their large wings provide greater lift and enable them to fly slowly, making them buoyant in flight and moth-like. This enhances their ability to sneak up on small mammals, which is crucial for their survival.
Peregrine F alcons, on the other hand, have evolved a different flight strategy. Their wings are angled to be more aerodynamic, enabling them to dive at high speeds.
Falcons make considerable noise as they fly up to 200 miles per hour, but that doesn’t matter since they’re faster than their prey.
The more nocturnal the owl, the more dependent it is on silent flight. This is why the Barn Owl and Great Grey Owl are particularly good models for engineers. Researchers have begun to model wind turbines, computer fans, and airplanes after owls’ wings to make them more efficient.
Recently, the University of Cambridge designed a coating to mimic the structure of an owl’s wing and tested it on a turbine blade in a wind tunnel. The blade proved just as aerodynamic but notably quieter, which is a step in the right direction.
In conclusion, owls are fascinating creatures with unique flight abilities that have inspired researchers to develop more efficient technologies.
By studying the shape and structure of their wings, engineers hope to create quieter and more efficient machines that can benefit society.”
Source: BC Earth