Eagle eye's view

By Phil Plait | January 16, 2010 12:00 pm

This is phenomenal footage, showing what an eagle sees as it flies courtesy a very small and light camera attached to the bird.

Wow. I have to find a copy of that whole show. That’s really amazing footage!

Tip o’ the flight feathers to Fark.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Science

Comments (40)

  1. Martin

    It was a good series, not just the golden eagle but other creatures as well.

  2. wright

    Wow. Just… wow. Thanks, Phil.

  3. bigjohn756

    Anyone know if we in the US can watch this series online?

  4. Drivethruscientist

    Wow, I’d love to see the peregrin falcon clip. Just from the few seconds they show you can tell that it was going pretty fast.

  5. Nice, pity the editor suffers from ADD.

  6. How do they get the camera off the bird afterward?

  7. Very nice! Thanks Phil!

  8. JohnDoe

    Some of this has been on PBS, if I’m not mistaken, I think the program was called “raptor force”. At least the peregrine falcon was shown there.

  9. Steve Ulven

    That is truly impressive! However, this is one example where editing is a bad thing. It would’ve been nice to just have one nice long shot uninterrupted.

  10. Neeneko

    That ground hugging one reminds me of ‘evil cam’ from various movies.

  11. André

    That’s an onbird camera!

  12. davem

    It’s from a series shown in 2004, called ‘Animal Camera’ as far as I can tell. There doesn’t seem to be a torrent for it, that I can find, and too long ago to be available on iPlayer.

  13. cmflyer

    I thought about the editing like Steve #9 above, but I was wondering if they were using short segments where the video is more smooth and less jerky. Next they need a bird steady-cam. (But it is fascinating to see how the birds make flight adjustments.)

  14. Tom K.

    That close to that beak I’d be wearing my safety glasses.

  15. Mike

    I saw this program on tv a little while ago.. awesome footage! Glad to see it again. :D

  16. I'd rather be fishin'

    WOW! Beautiful birds and stunning camera work, their video is much better than mine.

  17. Andy

    I too was bothered by the editing. In fact, I was surprised just how much it bothered me!

  18. Gary Ansorge

    Cool! I wonder if anyone has thought of bugging a wolf in Yellow Stone? That could provide some really interesting insight into the behavior of the pack.

    GAry 7

  19. Alec

    Wow, that’s so cool. I’ve always wanted to be a bird for the flight, haha. Although it was awesome, I agree with Steve that there should’ve been a long uninterrupted shot.

    I love evolution.

  20. Amazing, but I’ve got to agree about the editing. I’d love to see the raw video of that front camera through the entire flight. Depending on the quality of the footage, perhaps you could project it on an IMAX type screen and maybe blow some wind at people to enhance the realism…. Sorry, was just having a Disney World Soarin’ flashback.

  21. It seems like those cameras can steer, either that or they combined footage from multiple flights changing the camera aim between them. Sometimes we were looking over its head, sometimes at its head from the left, sometimes out along the wing and once, very briefly, over the tail. Of all the viewpoints, this last one intrigued me the most, followed closely by the wing shot. I wanted to see how it moved its tail and wingtip feathers to perform the different maneuvers. I’ve seen lots of video from RC gliders like this and comparing them would be fascinating.

    - Jack

  22. Lars

    Awesome pictures!

    @Jack: My impression was that they had multiple cameras “on board”.

  23. Too bad they didn’t bring the cams closer together and aim at a stereoscopic view. Still great idea and great footage.

  24. Robin D. Nelson

    Well, it’s not exactly what the eagle sees, because the eagle’s eyesight is so much better than ours. But it’s beautiful.

  25. Wow! Thanks for posting this Phil.

  26. wright

    @ #15: that was my thought too. I’d heard that even highly-trained raptor birds have this regrettable tendency to go for the eyes if held too close. Oh well, I understand functional optical replacements are coming along nicely…

  27. alfaniner

    ILM would have had a field day with this had the mini-tech existed around 1982…

  28. Reminds me of the time I tried to teach my wife how to drive…

  29. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 27. Robin D. Nelson Says:

    Well, it’s not exactly what the eagle sees, because the eagle’s eyesight is so much better than ours. But it’s beautiful.

    You beat me to it. That’s what I was going to say. That & the Oliver Twist line : “Please sir, can I have some more!” ;-)

    Yes, I too wish the narrator /editor there would just shut up and show us the bird-cam footage. That was just a very small taste of something very cool. :-)

    @ 18. featheredfrog Says:

    The peregrine and goshawk segment is here: …

    Thanks! :-)

    Sadly, while good that still seems kinda short. I would *love* a lot more just from the bird-cam.

    Talk about having a bird’s eye view! ;-)

    @ 22. TechyDad Says:

    Amazing, but I’ve got to agree about the editing. I’d love to see the raw video of that front camera through the entire flight. Depending on the quality of the footage, perhaps you could project it on an IMAX type screen and maybe blow some wind at people to enhance the realism…. Sorry, was just having a Disney World Soarin’ flashback.

    Don’t be sorry. That’s a durned good idea & I’d love to see that too. :-)

  30. Petrolonfire

    @ 6. Romeo Vitelli Says:

    How do they get the camera off the bird afterward?

    They pluck it? ;-)

    Cool footage though. If there’s anything to the idea of reincarnation (I know, there’s probably not but still..) coming back as a bird of prey does have a certain strong appeal to it. 8)

  31. @alfaniner, I was just thinking that goshawk sequence looked a lot like the speeder-bike chase.
    Spy on the Wild is another great series to watch. They were stuck with larger cameras but camouflaged them to not weird out the critters too much. And by critter I mean elephant, tiger, pride of lions, etc. Nothing cuter than watching a lion cub nom on bouldercam.

  32. David Vanderschel

    I did find a torrent for BBC’s Animal Camera 2. The tracker is working, but nobody is seeding it. Very few peers looking.

  33. Justus

    I’m sure the cameras must feel like a backpack full of bricks to the bird. They completely destroy the aerodynamic shape of its body. I bet getting used to them took some time.

  34. Cheyenne

    Go to the Google and type in “you tube golden eagle wolf hunting”. Then do it but change out “wolf” with “reindeer”.

    OK so yeah, you can friggin train one of those to hunt a wolf on the Mongolian Steppe or head up north of the Arctic circle and have it take down a Caribou. Absolutely amazing.

  35. Jason

    Jeff Corwin met up with these guys for one of his segments in the 1st season of Corwins Quest on Animal Planet (one of my 6yr old’s favorite shows) – he even used that same Golden Eagle (Tilly). That show is worth watching as well.

    http://animal.discovery.com/fansites/jeffcorwin/episode/episode04_09/sight.html

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