Police training eagles to take down drones

The Dutch National Police are attempting to train eagles to take down drones. (Here's an unintentional example of an eagle doing just that!) From IEEE Spectrum:

The Dutch police have partnered with Guard From Above, a raptor training company based in Denmark, to determine whether eagles could be used as intelligent, adaptive anti-drone weapon systems. The eagles are specially trained to identify and capture drones, although from the way most birds of prey react to drones, my guess is that not a lot of training was necessary. After snatching the drone out of the sky, the eagles instinctively find a safe area away from people to land and try take a couple confused bites out of their mechanical prey before their handlers can reward them with something a little less plastic-y. The advantage here is that with the eagles, you don’t have to worry about the drone taking off out of control or falling on people, since the birds are very good at mid-air intercepts as well as bringing the drone to the ground without endangering anyone.

Except maybe the eagles?

"Dutch Police Training Eagles to Take Down Drones" (IEEE Spectrum)

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Divebomb your friends in this elegant bird-jousting game

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You're supposed to be a bird in Trills, a two-player jousting game by Crudepixel, but for some reason when you collide with another bird, it sounds like two swords clashing. Maybe birds can also be swords, in this beautiful, minimalist world of light gravity and elegant collisions? I'm not an expert in imaginary ornithology.

You and a friend take on the role of either a turquoise or black sword-bird, and have to soar and dive your way to victory, which can take a couple of forms: knocking each other out of the arena, gaining the most territory, or scoring goals with a ball. The controls are relatively simple; it's all about spinning around to angle your bird for the perfect, elegant divebomb when you close your wings like a fan.

It's a lovely little thing to play around with, especially for the afforable cost of pay-what-you-will. Download it now on Itch.io, for Windows only. Read the rest

Adorable baby owl dancing to “Monster Mash” is 2015's official Halloween video

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It's a few years old, actually, but this video of a cute baby owl "dancing" to a fuzzy owl-shaped comforting toy that sings “Monster Mash” is well deserving of a viral revival. Read the rest

Little budgie likes preening this cat, and the cat likes it

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This white budgie is grooming a cat friend, and the cat seems to like it. Read the rest

You are the seagull who will burn the world

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At first, it seems like just another day at the beach for just another seagull. Then you open your tiny yellow beak and sing the song of fire.

Eric the bird says he is a "fucking legend" and the dog is a "fucking cunt"

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Eric the Bird calls the dog he lives with a " fucking cunt." This Corella is indeed a "fucking legend," as he declares himself in the video below. Read the rest

Crow enjoys riding windshield wipers

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Hanging on to that wiper must be murder.

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Up to 90 percent of seabirds have plastic in their guts

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Researchers calculate that as many as 9 out of 10 seabirds have plastic garbage in their intestines. So sad. Read the rest

Traffic noise annoys songbirds to the point of harming them

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New research suggests that traffic noise (apart from pollution and general hectic motion) degrades the natural habitat of songbirds, and perhaps other animals. Boise State University biologists created a "phantom road" using speakers to create traffic noise in a natural, roadless songbird habitat. Read the rest

Watch this birdie do a pretty much perfect R2D2 impersonation

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“We taught Bluey the budgie how to do R2-D2 and now he drives us crazy! He has two other budgies in his cage, and I think he's driving them crazy too!”

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Poop on everyone as a beautiful seagull

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"You poop uncontrollably. Your purpose is to poop on things."

Homing pigeon caught dropping off drugs at prison

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Guards at the La Reforma jail near San Jose, Costa Rica caught this homing pigeon as it flew into the prison carrying a bag of cocaine and marijuana. Read the rest

Soar on the wind as a flock of birds in Gathering Sky

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You begin Gathering Sky as a bird. Move your cursor, and it follows. But as you guide it through the sky, slowly adding other birds to your aerial coterie, the nature of your relationship quickly changes: you have become a flock. You not any one bird, but all of them, moving together with the smooth prescience you often see as birds loop through the sky, making hairpin turns in an eerie unison.

Here, you're the guiding force behind those movements, as the flock glides over the beautiful painted landscapes of the world below. You can also guide them into wind currents, which feel a bit like sky expressways that zip you forward through the level. Although these channels of wind are visible, you can only see a short ways ahead as your flock barrels forward, so if you want to stay in the fast lane you need to anticipate and respond quickly to the twists and turns. It can feel a bit like you're swaying in the thrall of some larger momentum, just like the birds are swaying in yours.

Created by the small studio A Stranger Gravity, Gathering Sky takes only about an hour to play and there are five levels, each with its own challenges—hawk attack! thunderstorm!—and aesthetics, like the level where your birds start to cut through the clouds instead of over them, making colorful designs as the ground below peeks through the trails you leave behind. The score, composed by Dren McDonald and recorded at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, adds measurably to the experience, brightening the more cheerful moments and intensifying the tension the thunderstorm level, where you fly in near-darkness illuminated by lightning cracks. Read the rest

Watch an eagle take down a drone

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"Eagle was fine - she was massive, and used talons to 'punch' the drone out of the sky," writes the drone operator from Australia's Melbourne Aerial Video. Read the rest

Watch the solar-powered flight of this robotic raven

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The University of Maryland Robotics Center's new Robo Raven III V4 soars on larger flapping wings that "have flexible solar cells giving the vehicle an extra 10 Watts of power. This allows this robotic bird to fly longer and recharge outdoors." Read the rest

Watch this parrot sing "Everything is Awesome" and other tunes

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Amazon parrot singing sensation Princess Yellowfeather resides at the Birds on Safari store in Stuart, Florida. Read the rest

Audubon Society's 2015 bird photography winners

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The Audubon Society received 9,000 entires for their annual photography contest and chose nine winners, including Mary Angela Luzader's Fine Art Honorable Mention for her shot of fighting Purple Gallinules, above.

She took her shot at Venetian Gardens, a public park in Leesburg, Florida:

Venetian Gardens is a wonderful place to photograph Purple Gallinules in a natural, parklike habitat. Someone called my attention to this pair chasing and fighting each other. I have never witnessed this behavior, and I was so excited I almost forgot to snap a few shots! When the fight was over, the victor got the girl, and the loser was chased away, with a few less feathers . . . and perhaps a headache!

The Top 100 is well worth the time if you admire birds and or beautiful photography.

Announcing the 2015 Audubon Photography Awards (audubon.org)

2015 Top 100 photos (audubon.org) Read the rest

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