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Birds and Engineering

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I came across this wonderful video. Forget the hype on ďbionic beak.Ē Itís just a hard nylon thatís used in a myriad of parts. Also the 3-D modeling program supposedly ďtypically used in aerospaceĒ is nothing special and not just used in aerospace. Itís probably Pro/ENGINEER software (here:; all mechanical engineers use it, not just aerospace. Nonetheless it makes me proud as a mechanical engineer.

Just a note. I canít imagine why it took 18 months to get to a single prototype. Perhaps it took a few iterations and the clip didnít mention it. Perhaps they didnít have money for it and had to do it at slow pace. Iím sure they had their regular jobs to attend to as well. Still a single prototype of a single molded part like that shouldnít take more than a month, perhaps two or three given itís an unusual application.

What a perfect name for that bird. She is a beauty. One doesn't realize how large an eagle is until it's beside a person. Iíve seen bald eagles at a distance but you have no sense of scale. And look at the concentration in her face. So intelligent, so thoughtful. One wonders what exactly her brain is processing as she watches.

Let's end this with a famous poem.

The Eagle
by Lord Alfred Tennyson

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

Updated 09-21-2012 at 11:56 PM by Virgil



  1. OrphanPip's Avatar
    They probably had to go through a number of regulatory boards too to do this kind of work on a live animal.

    I have a biomedical engineering friend who works in prosthetics research who would probably get a kick out of this.
  2. Virgil's Avatar
    Hmm. I didn't know that. Thanks.
  3. OrphanPip's Avatar
    Well I'm not sure, because they seem to be a non-profit rescue. But at universities and research institutes, ever since the 80s really, you need to go through ethics committees for anything that has anything to do with people or animals.

    I wouldn't be overly surprised if there was some sort of review board behind the organization, holding the purse-strings and watching out for any possible liabilities.
  4. Virgil's Avatar
    Yeah, I'm now skeptical of that. The guy who performed the operation was a regular dentist. Doesn't seem like they were following any rules.
  5. qimissung's Avatar
    Thank you for sharing that, Virgil. It's very touching to see people take care of animals.

    I was so interested in this I checked around on the internet and found this:
  6. zoolane's Avatar
    Luck Eagle.
  7. Virgil's Avatar
    Thank Qimi. Let me put out a pet peeve. As touching as those stories are, this bugs me, especially when you know just how little energy these stupid windmills provide.
  8. Buh4Bee's Avatar
    Yeah, my husband is from that area and he was just going on about how they don't run the windmills all the time anyway- they are producing something like 2% of the energy. Here, in VT, there are starting to build these things and people are very upset. It is killing the views and decimating the mountain ridge for what seems a small amount of energy.

    Anyway the eagle story was pretty cool. Glad they were able to make it fit. The eagle looked very happy at the end of the operation.
  9. Virgil's Avatar
    You're husband is from Southern Cal? Is that place in the video east of San Diego? I've driven eastward from San Diego toward Arizona and have seen a bunch of those wind mills.

    As to the ones they are building by you, hope you are not too close. There are some accounts of the constant vibration causing health issues to people who live near by. I don't think that's actually been confirmed, but I've seen that as a negative as well. They call it "wind turbine syndrome." You could probably google it.
  10. qimissung's Avatar
    Huh? I think I missed something. What do windmills have to do with the eagle or the little bionic animal slideshow I provided a link for? Not that I really care. I realize the wind provides energy, but not nearly enough. I've known that for awhile.
  11. Buh4Bee's Avatar
    I was making reference to this link Virgil posted a few dialogue boxes up:
  12. qimissung's Avatar
    Thank you, Buh4Bee. I know why you said what you said, it just seemed the link Virgil posted came out of the blue. I wasn't sure what caused him to bring that up.
  13. Virgil's Avatar
    Yeah, sorry to throw you for a tiny loop Qimi. But when you think about it, the second clip does fit the "Birds and Engineering" of the blog's title. Actually I had wanted to put the two clips side by side when I first conceived the blog, as a sort of two sides of a coin, the good and the bad. But I then decided against it for a couple of reasons, mainly because I didn't really feel like writing too
  14. qimissung's Avatar
    throw me for a tiny loop, that's cute, Virgil. I watched part of it, and it was painful. We're always so overeager, and then we do nothing when it turns out that our plans are flawed.
  15. Hawkman's Avatar
    V interesting Virgil. However, there do seem to have been some emotive presumptions made in the video commentary. How do they know the bird was shot?

    A raptors beak is constantly growing by the way. I had to cope my hawk's beak on a couple of occasions. It is possible, providing that the root of the beak beneath the sere is undamaged, that it will grow back on it's own. but it will definitely take time. This would explain why the narrator indicated that there would be further, ongoing ops. I guess it would have been quite difficult to anesthetize the bird given the location of the injury, but they did a good job.

    The prosthetic (it's not bionic) will certainly give the bird back it's independance to a certain extent, anyway.

    Wind farms are bad news for birds of prey. I have a video clip of a soaring turkey vulture being swiped out of the air by one. It didn't kill it outright, just broke its back.

    I like eagles, I know a few people who keep them, but they get heavy if you have to lug them very far - lol. If they go on the soar it can be a long jaunt to track them and call them back to the fist.

    Thanks for the article.

    Live and be well - H
  16. LadyLuck's Avatar
    I just finally got around to watching this, and that is pretty fabulous. When I was still living on the west coast, I remember watching the eagles each year over the water, and it was an awe inspiring sight. It's not something I'm ever likely to see where I'm at now, but to have seen it year after year... breathtaking. That they were able to restore the beak into something actually usable was great. 18 months though? Wow, who would have guessed the time it would take to do it.
  17. Virgil's Avatar
    Thanks LadyLuck

    Hawkman, you make a great point. If the bird was shot in the face there ought to be at least some scars besides losing the beak. Everything else on the face is pristine. When I first thought about what happened, I thought it was probably an accidental shooting, after all why would someone want to shoot an eagle? But given the hype of "bionic" and "aerospace" I don't think the bird was shot at all. Thanks for the comment, and yes, I do not see why we have to have hese stupid windmills. Eagles as trained hunters are big over in Kazakhstan where I spent a few months a couple of years ago.