Would aeroplanes be better if they were more like birds?
On this page, you’ll discover the deeper science behind our research on bird flight. Whether you’re a budding biologist, an engineer, or someone who simply loves physics and the natural world, there’s something exciting just for you.
OwlAR Augmented Reality experience
Scan this QR code with your phone to see Lily gliding through gusts for fun. If you are reading on a phone or tablet, you can click here.
Meet Lloyd and Sasha
Meet Lloyd Buck and Sasha the Indian Tawny Eagle who helped us learn how birds deal with gusts (2 min 25 sec).
Introduction to the question “would planes be better if they were more like birds?” (5 min 0 sec)
Professor Jim Usherwood reveals the deeper science behind birds’ tails and hinging wings (10 min 26 sec).
Why birds in gusts?
Find out what motivated us and see how it all worked (2 min 42 sec).
What do birds’ tails do?
Find out the details on how birds’ tails work (3 min 1 sec).
Workshop explaining how birds tails work and how their wings act as suspension – including walking through how to make your own paper owl glider (27 min).
3D print an owl of your own. This model has a 120 mm wingspan and prints upside down (it loads this way). Carefully remove the support structure, taking care if using a sharp tool.
Find out more
Animal flight and bio-inspiration research at the University of Bristol.
Aerial robotics research at the University of Bristol.
Animal movement research at the Royal Veterinary College.
Scientific journal article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Scientific journal article in the Journal of Experimental Biology.