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The Bird's Eye View

Posted by Sarah Laskow  October 12, 2012 03:05 PM

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John Downer makes nature documentaries, and in his latest, Winged Planet, he strapped stripped-down versions of the “highest-quality but smallest HD cameras available” onto fish eagles and vultures. Here’s what you would see if you were clinging onto the back of one of these soaring birds:

Winged Planet Photo 1a.JPG

Winged Planet Photo 1.JPG

This same idea has other uses besides collecting wild, bird’s eye views from the sky, though. Biologists at the University of British Columbia were able to fit out two closely related subspecies of thrushes with tiny geolocation devices in order to track their migration routes south for the winter. They were able to map directly for the first time the birds’ divergent migration routes: although both end up in Central America, one subspecies of these very similar birds runs down the California coast, and the other flies on the other side of the Rockies, across the Midwest.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that, like the seagull that stole Nathalie Rollandin’s camera, a bird will take it upon itself to share its perspective on the world.

[Photos via the Discovery Channel]

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


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