A new study revelaed that owls are armed with advanced stealth technology enabling them to swoop on their prey undetected. The study analyzes the secret behind the nocturnal creature’s silent flight.
Scientists and researchers have been intrigued for a long time by the owl’s ability to flap its wings forcefully enough to rise in the air without making noise while pouncing silently on fast moving rodents.
The researchers dubbed the owl the king of acoustic stealth after observing that its wings took in the energy of flight vibrations and turned it into heat in a much more efficient manner than other birds they scrutinized.
Producing enough thrust to be up in flight requires a large quantity of force and moves a lot of air. Many owl species can do it at frequencies under 2 kilohertz, quite beyond their prey’s range of hearing.
Researchers utilized the feathers of a pigeon, a golden eagle, and a long-eared owl. Simulating wing-beats they calculated the vibrations and discovered that the owl feathers retained much more of the energy in the form of heat compared to the others.
Jinkui Chu, professor of mechanical engineering at the Dalian University of Technology in China opined that scientists could replicate the owl’s noise-reduction methods to silence machine noises.
He added that the owl’s noiseless flight ability exceeded their earlier estimates. The owl can stifle not only aerodynamic sound during gliding but also mechanical sound produced by vibration when flying.
Dr. Helen Czerski, a physicist at UCL, commented that if owls can fly more silently than airplanes can too. Anything having wings could be a lot more silent if this technology could be comprehended.
The researchers’ team harnessed high-speed cameras as well as lasers to observe the pigeons, eagles and owls flying at night. The Owl’s stealth mechanism is being studied and analyzed for industrial applications.