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Episode 160- Soaring Birds with Hannah Jane Williams

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Hannah Jane Williams is a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Konstanz, Germany. For eight years she’s been studying soaring birds across the spectrum to figure out why birds do what they do and when they do it in the air. For birds, soaring is a delicate game of balancing energy and reward. Flapping takes energy. Energy requires food and getting food has risk. Do birds practice? Do they ever soar just to play? How often do birds make mistakes? How do they map the sky? Do they use other birds to evaluate climbs, find lift bands, and take better lines, or is it all instinct? These are the questions Hannah has been trying to solve- and because free-flight pilots are as well, Hannah and a team of fellow researchers who all work with soaring birds around the world are also now studying what we all do in the air. We are all in fact trying to be birds, and we can talk so studying what we do is helping connect the dots with Hannah’s research. If you’re like me and dream of doing what we do as efficiently as our winged brethren, you’re going to like this show.

Show Notes:

* Hannah discusses her project and how she got into studying soaring birds through movement ecology* What do the birds see?* Tracking migratory birds and getting the data* Connecting through data and getting to know the birds* The albatross and energy use with the large birds* Thermal soaring and strategies* Land and sea birds* Do birds play? It’s controversial* Every decision an animal makes balances trade offs* Making expensive decisions* What bird is the king of soaring?* Decision making in the sky

Mentioned in this episode:

Cross Country Magazine, Max Planck Institute, Malin Lobb

Hannah Jane Williams gets into the simulator