Phenomena

Silent Flying

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As nocturnal hunters, owls are aerodynamically optimized for stealthy flying. This clip from BBC Earth demonstrates just how quiet a barn owl is in flight compared to a pigeon or a peregrine falcon. The owl’s large wingspan relative to its body size gives it enough lift that it does not have to flap often, allowing it to glide instead, but this is far from its only stealthy adaptation. Owl feathers feature a serrated leading edge that helps break flow over the wing into smaller, quieter vortices. Their fringe-like trailing edge breaks flow up even further and acts to damp noise from airflow. The downy feathers of the owl’s body also help muffle any noise from the bird’s movement, allowing the barn owl to fly almost silently. (Video credit: BBC Earth; via Gizmodo)

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