Silent Flight

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Owls have broad wings with large surface areas that help them to float through the air without flapping too much. Less flapping makes less noise. When most birds fly, turbulence -- created when air gushes over the surface of their wings -- causes noise.

How Owl Feathers Allow Owls to Fly Silently to Catch Prey

O wls' wings, however, are unique because they reduce noise caused by turbulence. An owl's primary feathers are serrated like a comb. Then the edge of the feather muffles the sound of air flowing over the wing and shifts the angle at which air flows. These soft feathers allow air to pass through which eliminates sound.

High speed train silently slices through air

Some people suspect that, as the owls flies, these feathers may also shift sound energy created by the owl's wing to a higher frequency that prey can't hear. By their bending and orientation, serrations induce tiny vortices running over the dorsal wing surface as shown by Ito This phenomenon increases the lift and reduces the noise of barn owl wings during flapping flight and striking, which is extremely useful for the owl. You must be logged in to post a comment.

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How can owls fly silently?

It would be useful for all birds of prey to fly silently. I remember we noticed we could hear the air passing over the owls wings as it soared past us when we were training it.

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The same was true of the Red Tailed Hawk. This content is blocked. Accept cookies to view the content.

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Owls' Feathers and Wing Structure | HowStuffWorks

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Yet there is tension amongst them and knees tremble in anticipation, all are alert for the subtle lift of a wing that signals a bubble of warm, rising air. Minutes, or perhaps hours later, the sailplane reappears at a lower altitude and is electronically grooved to a perfect landing on the grass at the feet of its once-remote master. Such a scene is repeated thousands of times during the soaring season all over the world by men and woman of all ages and talents.

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A call is given by the pilot, "Lads I have crossed the starting line and heading on course! The team of driver, observer, and pilot scramble into the back of a pickup or convertible and head out onto the cross country course.

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The variometer, plugged into the car radio or pilot headset, is wailing with the telemetry data sent back from the sailplane Higher the sailplane goes, , , , meters until it is a speck. The pilot is telling the driver to pick up speed, "Up 5 they say, then up 10, then down 5". They are out on the course chasing the glider, trying to get 10 kilometers down the road to the turn point.

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