While scientists have long known that modern day birds are dinosaurs (a fact that is self-evident if you ever look at a cassowary), it now appears that birds were not the dinosaurs' only attempt at flight. It may have had feathers, but the recently discovered Yi qi ("Strange Wing") had wings like a bat.
Birdly: An Attempt to Fly. "‘Birdly’ is an installation which explores the experience of a bird in flight. It tries to capture the mediated flying experience, with several methods. [...] Visualized through HMD (Oculus Rift) the participant is embedded in a virtual landscape where his body is the body of a Red Kite. The whole scenery is perceived in the first person perspective of a bird. To intensify the embodiment we include additional sonic, olfactoric and wind feedback. Soundwise you perceive only the roaring of the wind and the flaps of the wings." [more inside]
Dennis Hlynsky is a professor of film and animation at RISD whose most recent work, titled Small Brains on Mass, looks at bird behavior, particularly how they interact when flying in groups. To better understand how flying as a flock is achieved, Hlynsky filmed the birds and then stacked the images on the same frame for a set number of frames, the results show each bird’s flight as a trail, but synchronized with the flock. The results are often pure poetry. [more inside]
[V]Robo Raven[V] is a robot bird. So uncanny a hawk attacked it during testing. Other robot birds include the SmartBird, a flying robotic seagull, and AirPenguins. Robobee is a robot bee.
Prior to their southward migration, the godwits eat up large, until up to 55 per cent of their body weight is fat. They then reduce the size of their gut, kidney and liver by up to 25 per cent to compensate for the added weight. Godwits are amazing migratory shorebirds who travel many thousands of miles at a go. Here's a brief documentary of people studying them (12 minutes on youtube + ad, shows invasive surgery). Here's some science on their flights (creative commons). [more inside]