For the Birds

UC San Diego researchers see various applications in studying our fine feathered friends:

Bird Brains: Songbirds have complex, learned vocalizations that vary in pitch and timbre, much like human speech. So researchers are now using machine learning algorithms to recreate a bird’s song solely from its brain activity. This proof-of-concept study may help people with illnesses that impair their ability to communicate. Hear for yourself: Compare a zebra finch’s song and its AI reproduction based on brain signals at:


Catching Waves: Engineers have unpacked the physics that keep pelicans aloft just above the crests of waves. The waves apparently create updrafts, which the birds exploit to conserve energy while flying. Understanding this “wave slope soaring” may improve controls for drones suspended above water for long periods of time. Learn more at:



“Nest” Cam: A pair of ospreys has recently taken residence at Scripps Pier in a nesting box made possible by a gift from the Grant Family Foundation. With a safe space provided for the birds of prey to breed and raise their young, their avian activities are now streaming 24 hours a day at: