Evolutionary biology Intelligent Design

At Phys.org: How giant-faced owls snag voles hidden in snow

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Hovering over a target helps giant-faced Great Gray owls pinpoint prey hidden beneath as much as two feet of snow.

How giant-faced owls snag voles hidden in snow 
The face of a great gray owl. Credit: James Duncan

Several of the owls’ physical features, especially parts of their wings and face, help them correct for sonic distortions caused by the snow, enabling them to find their moving food with astonishing accuracy, according to a new UC Riverside study.

While most owls fly straight at their prey, this species hovers just above a target area before dropping straight down and punching through the snow with its talons.

“These aren’t the only birds to hunt this way, but in some ways, they are the most extreme because they can locate prey so far beneath the snow cover,” said UC Riverside biologist Christopher Clark, who led the study. “This species is THE snow hunting specialist.”

A key finding relates to the owls’ broad disc-like face, which they use like radar to find food. The fleshy part of our ears works the way their facial features do. An opening under their feathers funnels sound toward their ears, which are located near the center of their faces.

“It’s similar to the way a dog can turn its ears to tune sound. Owls can do the same thing,” Clark said.

Bigger facial discs are more sensitive to low-frequency sounds. With the largest facial disc of any bird, great gray owls are built for hunting voles, their preferred food. Often mistaken for mice, voles have high-pitched voices that get lost under snow cover. However, their digging and chewing sounds beam straight onto the owls’ facial radar.

“The fact that low frequency sound passes through snow explains the facial disc of this species, because they have better low frequency hearing with such a big disc.”

Note: The owls’ broad disc-like face, allows them to hear the low frequency sounds of a vole. OK, this is a scientific conclusion. To assume that this “explains” the facial disc of this owl species is not science, it lacks any explanatory power and it is simply paying lip-service to the evolutionary story-line

The group’s sonic experiments also demonstrated that snow bends the voles’ sounds, creating an “acoustic mirage,” which could lead owls astray. By spending a moment directly above their prey, the birds correct for the snow’s distortions.

Great gray owls also have wings that appear to dampen the sound of flying, which may allow them to concentrate on the noises coming from the voles. Among all owls, this species is among the quietest in flight, owing to long, fringed wings coated in thick “velvet.” The sound-dampening qualities of these wings may be particularly useful during the hovering phase of the hunt.

This last aspect of the work is of interest not only to those fascinated by owls, but also to those developing quieter machines.

“Between the 1940s and 60s, airplane sounds dropped dramatically, but since then planes haven’t gotten much quieter. Studying how these owls‘ wings function could help inspire new planes and drones that create less noise,” Clark said.

Full article at Phys.org.

The sophisticated hunting “equipment” possessed by the Great Gray owl can provide inspiration for avionic engineers. Is there evidence for intelligent design in nature?

4 Replies to “At Phys.org: How giant-faced owls snag voles hidden in snow

  1. 1
    asauber says:

    Evolution doesn’t explain owls.

    Andrew

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Dr. Tour’s video debunking “professor” Dave’s “experts” is about to premier in 40 minutes,

    Dave Farina’s “Experts” completely DEBUNKED. The Religion of Prebiotic Soup – Lee Cronin Part 01
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rwPi1miWu4

    Of note:

    Debunking “Professor Dave’s” Hit Piece Against Stephen Meyer – Günter Bechly
    Excerpt: “Professor Dave”,,, whose real name is Dave Farina, is neither a professor nor a PhD but just a failed ex-teacher who unsuccessfully tried twice to get a master’s degree in chemistry.,,,
    civilized discourse is not Farina’s cup of tea. In the first five minutes of his new video, he calls ID proponents “clowns,” “charlatans,” “frauds,” and “liars,” and calls ID arguments “pseudo-science,” “rubbish,” “horse manure,” and “dishonest tripe.” His personal agenda is revealed by the ridiculous statement [TC 3:00] that genocide, infanticide, eugenics, and other evils are “all the heinous acts that historically have been the exclusive domain of religion.” Has he never heard of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot?

    Apparently, Farina thinks the best way to deal with anybody he disagrees with is to bully and berate them with hate speech and gutter language. Here is an example of what I mean from one of his comments on YouTube (I’ve replaced certain letters with asterisks to make the profanity more tolerable to read):

    “Um, I’m pretty sure I would make Meyer cry. He’s a f****ing moron, as I demonstrated in this video you didn’t watch. Why are all you creationist tools such cowardly sh**bags?”

    When a commenter on his video against Stephen Meyer criticized his harsh language, Farina responded with even more over-the-top vituperation:

    “They are liars. I show how they are liars. That’s all it is. And for f****’s sake, I’m exposing the agenda of what is essentially a terrorist organization that wants to drag America back to an authoritarian theocracy and ruin millions of lives, and you have the balls to call me nasty and mean-spirited for speaking out against them? You’re f****ing stupid. I suggest you work on that.” [“They” refers to Discovery Institute and ID proponents.]

    What Is Wrong with This Guy?
    This is not how a sane and reasonable adult writes. Since when are academic questions and intellectual debates settled by lobbing f-words? I can only pity the school kids who suffered under such an intolerant and rude person as a science teacher. Farina seems to have some significant anger management issues. He certainly is not the type of person any reasonable parents would like to have around their kids! This has nothing to do with intelligent design vs. materialism or religion vs. science. Farina’s immature pottymouth should disqualify him from any serious discourse about anything with anyone. He really needs a “time out.”
    https://evolutionnews.org/2022/11/debunking-professor-daves-hit-piece-against-stephen-meyer/

    Günter Bechly – recent articles debunking “Professor” Dave
    https://evolutionnews.org/author/gbechly/

  3. 3
    relatd says:

    Ba77,

    I’ve seen the mild form here; i.e. ID proponents referred to as ‘dishonest.’ Does that explain anything? No. Of course not. I’ve seen another person refer to ID as something that needs a ‘drubbing.’ No need to engage with the claims made by ID proponents and scientists involved in ongoing research. Based on posts here, the claims of ID need to be addressed in a way that ignores those claims and to pose questions that only cause confusion.

    I’ve asked a question twice and gotten no response. The reason is simple. A yes or no would automatically place the poster on one side or the other. It would forever brand him as one or the other.

    The question: Is life actually designed? Yes or no.

    Among atheist naturalists, a no is unthinkable, and based on actual observation from actual scientists, unreasonable. A yes is also unthinkable since it would deny what they claim to believe.

    For unbiased readers, the evidence is clear: Life is designed.

  4. 4
    relatd says:

    “… I’m exposing the agenda of what is essentially a terrorist organization that wants to drag America back to an authoritarian theocracy and ruin millions of lives, and you have the balls to call me nasty and mean-spirited for speaking out against them? You’re f****ing stupid. I suggest you work on that.” [“They” refers to Discovery Institute and ID proponents.]

    Let’s look at each point:

    Mid-1960s Various anti-family groups begin to form. Their primary goal: To create Marxist class warfare between men and women and to shut off the flow of babies. To promote artificial contraception and ritual baby killing with abortion. (Everyone reading this began life as a human embryo.)

    “drag America back” to its pre-destroyed state? The 1950s and early 1960s saw a greater religiousness among American and Western European people. Newspapers would feature beautiful editorials at Christmas that celebrated the birth of Christ. Even comic book publishers produced special Christmas issues and Christmas programming was common. Now? TV shows like Kevin can go f*ck himself?

    The goal was to drag a mostly moral (no, not perfect), polite and civilized people into the immoral mud of the pig pen. To get people used to the idea that immoral living was no big deal. That abortion and contraception were no big deal.

    “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

    From John Adams to Massachusetts Militia, 11 October 1798

    It appears that John Adams would be a “terrorist” according to this man.

    The millions of lives ruined would be people waking up to the fact that they have been lied to and manipulated for decades. And by people who want bad things to be legal and commonplace because it suits them.

    A “theocracy” is not required. All that is required is the truth. And to repeat that truth daily to combat the lies being spread among the people. That includes Intelligent Design.

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