John Downer makes nature documentaries, and in his latest, Winged Planet, he strapped stripped-down versions of the “highest-quality but smallest HD cameras available” onto fish eagles and vultures. Here’s what you would see if you were clinging onto the back of one of these soaring birds:
This same idea has other uses besides collecting wild, bird’s eye views from the sky, though. Biologists at the University of British Columbia were able to fit out two closely related subspecies of thrushes with tiny geolocation devices in order to track their migration routes south for the winter. They were able to map directly for the first time the birds’ divergent migration routes: although both end up in Central America, one subspecies of these very similar birds runs down the California coast, and the other flies on the other side of the Rockies, across the Midwest.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that, like the seagull that stole Nathalie Rollandin’s camera, a bird will take it upon itself to share its perspective on the world.
[Photos via the Discovery Channel]
Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His last article for Ideas was about choosing Congress by lottery.
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Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.