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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

World Bird WednesdayLIX

Trust No One

    In the fall of last year I was on my way to Tawas Point, one of the premiere birding sites along Lake Huron about an hour from my home on the Pine River. As often happens, the best action was on the way to where I was going. I spotted an immature Red tailed hawk kiting near the road side and pulled off to practice our high tech game of bird photography. The maneuvers this young hawk was performing were a wonder; diving, soaring, and hovering. For a daydreamer like myself, it was poetry in motion. I wondered: Will human ingenuity ever be able to fashion a machine capable of imitating the sky dance of a Hawk?
    As busy as our skies are these days with human inventions, from the air in my living room (Josh bought one of those tiny remote control helicopters for Christmas) all the way to to the edge of our solar system where Voyager treks, we awkward humans remain tied to the relatively simplistic fixed wing set up used by the Wright brothers to achieve flight in 1903. Indeed, building a machine replicating the dexterity of a bird's wing remains a lofty goal for the ambitious avionics thinkers and tinkerers of today. As technological discoveries have snowballed, man now travels the heavens at thousands of miles per hour in jet driven craft. Still, raw speed aside, have we even scratched the surface of what a humble bird achieves?
Consider these factoids gleaned from my reading this week:

  • A Blackbird jet flying nearly 2,000 mph covers 32 of its own body lengths per second. But a common pigeon covers 75 of its body lengths a second.

  • The roll rate of the aerobatic A-4 Skyhawk plane is about 720 degrees per second. The roll rate of a barn swallow is more than 5,000 degrees per second.

  •  As beasts of the air we humans are poorly designed and it has been all our big brains can handle to invent machines to assist our rise into the wild blue yonder. We'd do better if we could let our machines work without our cumbersome fat bottomed bodies attached to them. The U.S. military flies unmanned drone aircraft over the Mid-East from a control center in the Rocky Mountains half way around the world. That expensive flight technology like this, is driven by the needs of the military to baffle and destroy it's enemies is a crying shame. It seems useless to hope for something better, like spending a few of those hard earned bucks on the decaying infrastructure of our dilapidated twentieth century cities. Excuse me for drifting away from my theme. My question: Has the miniaturisation of our artificial intelligence and mechanical systems risen to the point where, however awkwardly, we can mimic the dream like avionics of a three month old Red-tailed hawk? Could science create a life like mechanical bird? And if the day has arrived that such a miraculous robot does fly our skies, what are the practical implications of this dream realised? I put on my investigative reporter hat and got on the case!

    After a quick look at this U-tube video your pride in the inventiveness of your fellow humans will be hard to contain.  Micro Air Vehicle's (MAV's) are here, brought to you by, who else, the thoughtful folks at your local Military/ Industrial think tanks. Not since Homing pigeons ferried messages across the English channel in times of war has there been such a treacherous bird in the sky. Insects, too, are being mimicked in a high tech display of ingenuity to track and destroy dastardly evil doers where they live and breathe. Think of it, a thousand lethal mechanical insects falling from a computer guided gull like drone each capable of recharging themselves endlessly off our domestic power lines and making the world safe for... yeah, safe for who and what? Click on this text for an additional science based horror show!

       The remnants of purity, and innocents of vision seems to be vanishing. Things are not what they are anymore. A is not A, just opposite of what Aristotle's Law of Idenity supposed.
       The day has arrived when some of us on this planet can not trust the fanciful sight of a bird in flight to be a benign comfort. Apparently warrior birds are at this moment being field tested in combat. Click on this text for the brutal proof.  As domestic law enforcement finds uses for these lethal "toys" will any of us ever look at the silhouette of our beloved birds with the same trust and benevolence as we do today?
       The truth is out there!

    This is the home of World Bird Wednesday. A place for bird photographers from around the world to gather and share their photographs and experiences as they pursue Natures most beautiful treasurers, the birds.

    You don't have to be a Bird Watcher or expert photographer to join in, just enjoy sharing what you bring back from your explorations and adventures into nature!

    World Bird Wednesday will be open for posting at 12 noon Tuesday EST North America through midnight on Wednesday.


    #1. Simply copy the above picture onto your W.B.W. blog entry, it contains a link for your readers to share in the fun. Or, you can copy this link on to your blog page to share WBW.

    #2. Come to The Pine River Review on Tuesday Noon EST North America through Wednesday midnight and submit your blog entry with InLinkz.

    #3. Check back in during the course of the next day and explore these excellent photoblogs!

    The idea of a meme is that you will visit each others blogs and perhaps leave a comment to encourage your compatriots!

    Come on it's your turn!


    1. Beautiful in-flight shots, Springman! Excellent job with both! Nice pieces of information I wasn't aware of, too. Thanks.

    2. Nice shots and thought provoking insights, Springman! It is amazing to marvel at what nature has come up with -- and how inferior we are at so many things. However, the field of biomimetics is rapidly expanding as we realize that it makes less sense to start an invention from scratch than it does to copy what millions of years of evolution has fine-tuned.

    3. Marvellous photos! Imitating nature has served up well, but I really wish we would imitate it for better purposes.

    4. I knew that they were working on bugs and fish and birds. But had no idéa that they had come so far as a flying bird. In a way it is amazing. Even if I prefere the real thing. :) But what of that man??

    5. Wonderful photography as usual! But scary stuff to read about. I'll stick with real birds, thank you.

    6. What a sad and scary place the world is becoming.
      Another great post Dave.

    7. Food for thought! Your images take my breath away!

    8. a micro-air vehicle indeed; my goodness. Thanks for passing on your in-depth thoughts and research Springman. We're all left pondering now ... Your intro red-tailed hawk is magnificent, and I'm still scratching my head over the guy walking the beach? Was he adorned with all his worldly possessions?

    9. Happy to join in the WBW experience. So many outstanding images of the bird world!

    10. and now come on Springman.... what about the guy wearing all the intresting stuff.

    11. Greetings fellow World Birders!
      It's wonderful to be taking this weekly trip around the planet again. I was out and about this morning following up a lead on Snow owls Larry from the Birder's Report sent me. No luck to report on the Snow owls but hopefully I'll be able to cut out mining the archives in this holiday review rampage and get current again with the birds I did see.
      About the "Tinman" as we call him. He lives in the ramshackeled neighborhood around the Packard Plant, the largest abandoned industrial building in the Western Hemisphere, and a few blocks away from Engine 23 in Detroit. I included his picture as a way of illustrating the point that our high technology does not make us something we are not. In this case, birds, and the attempt has a freakish and monsterous subtext.
      I think the Tinman was trying to get at something a bit different. When I talked with him, and he is not very talkitive, I gathered his point in creating such a bizarre costume was to express his feeling that our technology and consumer society had been a failure in solving human problems. He was clothed this day in machine parts of every kind and cut an intriguing figure. A true artist/madman in the grand Detroit tradition.

    12. Springman, amazing technology, but still a long way to go to match the common House Sparrow! Just think of what our own countries would be like if what they spent on the Iraq, Iran & Afghanistan wars was spend on the people who actually paid for it all! Boggles the mind.

      Cheers to you in the New Year. Hope you had a great holiday season!

    13. Interesting post, Springman! I also prefer the real birds they are not as scary. I love the hawk and the gull shots. Thanks for hosting another WBW!

    14. Another thought provoking post Dave...Many thanks for sharing.

    15. As I was reading I thought to myself "But they have created an artifical bird that can fly" and knew I would not be able to remember where it was I saw the video. It was demonstrated within a large auditorium at some science conference. At any rate I was relieved to see you found it or one similar on Youtube. The Chinese manufacturer that designs and mass produces those mechanical birds for sale to the public will make a fortune. I WANT ONE! as for the rest of your post, I won't get started but I agree whole heartedly. A safe 2012 to you this year in your hazardous profession.

    16. What is this world coming to? In some ways I am grad my lifespan is drawing to a close. Living in the thick of WWII was enough for me without seeing the wonder of our avian friends polluted by death-dealing lookalikes.

      The human race has caught a killing malaise that is like a virus infecting the governments and populations at large as well. Senseless mass shootings in schools and other large gatherings of people and now this death-dealing threat of robotic birds mutating into swarms of insects killing by infecting populations on a large scale or assassinating at will without trace of a human presence. If one nation can do it, so can all the others. In the end, only the unharmed infrastructure will remain and one hopes that the animals, or what is left of them, will live happily on this planet we have managed to exterminate the dominant species on. Thank you for your research into the topic and for this depressing information but how do you swat or spot a robotic mosquito?

    17. Oh my, I will forever now keep my eyes to the skies, and wonder about all the beautiful gulls I love to photograph. How interesting and absolutely scary but believable!
      BTW I orginally rooted for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and after many years of disappointment, and the fact we moved to New York state, I just had to go for it, and the Yankees have lived up to my hopes! The Steelers will always be my guys no matter what they do. It just happens that they are great.
      Awesome shots as usual Springman.
      Have a great week, and stay safe.

    18. wow...that must be heavy..
      LOVE the NEW HEADER SHOT and all the supporting shots too..
      That artificial Intelligent Bird--Gee...why cant some of that marvelous technology be put some GOOD USE For a change?

    19. I am always expecting the worst when it comes to humans in general, military in detail.
      It has been like this for hundreds (thousands) of years and always will be, I'm afraid. Humans don't get smarter with all the technology they can come up with. They just stay stuck in their ways of greed and need for power.
      Only a few humans see things a different way, through different eyes. Usually they are called nuts by those others.

      Anyhow, I love your youngster there in flight. It never bores me to watch these guys :-)

    20. Great photos of the birds in flight. I'll concentrate on them and not on the terrible things people dream up.

    21. Happy New Year, Springman. Thanks for hosting this interesting meme. You encourage me to up the ante with my birding and bird photography (the latter still needing lots of improvement!) Lovely inflight shots and words in your post. Have a great birding 2012! Greetings, Jo

    22. Hi there - thought provoking as ever.

      You should read "The Men who Stare at Goats" (not the film!) if you want to see have crazed some people can get!

      Cheers - Stewart M

    23. Another interesting post, Springman. The tin man is a perfect comment on the detritus of our machine age. The military proves again that it operates in a value-free zone; from bombers to miniaturized robo-birds and insects parallels the change from wars between nations to wars on terrorists hiding among civilian populations. Though perverse the execution the death toll will be lower.

    24. Great flight photos Springman! Your posts are always so informative. Thanks again for hosting WBW and looking forward to more great images & info in 2012.

    25. You're scaring me Springman! I have a terrible case of Pollyanna-itis but I'm not sure if I would have survived all these decades without it, so I guess I won't try too hard to cure it.

      Your pictures are superb as always and your words true (even if I want to ignore them).

    26. Lovely post! I love especially two lasts photos:)

    27. Once again David, you are the man! That shot of the young Red-tail flying over is magnifico! Thanks for the information on the new technology we must deal with now and in the future. I'm not sure what to think of it, though I'm sure it's better than training dolphins for mine detection.

    28. Your Red Tailed Hawk is a beautiful bird and a great photo. Somewhat disturbing reading and viewing some of the technology being implemented, yet also makes one marvel at the creative genius of our God when we observe even the most common and humble bird.

    29. Wonderful shots of birds in flight.

    30. Am late, so late getting here, but better late than never. Always a great pleasure to see what you have been up to. I think there is considerable cause for concern at what is no doubt going on in research and development labs funded by military budgets around the globe. Can only nod my head in agreement with you, seems like the human race is going in some bizarre, sick, and frightening directions. The natural world is so rich and full of wonders, but we have to go and meddle with our Frankenstein, and Frankengull projects... the Horror, the Horror.

      Hope you had some fabulous holidays, and looking forward to trying to keep up with your soaring blog posts in the coming year. Can only thank you deeply for all of your visits in the past year and your Springmanesque insights of which only you are capable... be well friend.