Flying in the wind tunnel

Would you like to do research in the flight tunnel?

External Researchers are also welcome to conduct short- or long term projects in the wind tunnel in collaboration with the MPI for Ornithology. During that period researchers are also welcome to use our guest house.

Please contact Dr. Niels Rattenborg,, Tel. +49 8157 932 279

Wind tunnel in Seewiesen

Wind tunnel

In 1999, the wind tunnel in Seewiesen started its work. It is worldwide the second facility of this kind, following the one in Lund/Sweden. It was installed in an already existing building in such a way that the position of the flight section is located directly under the dome of a planetarium.

The original function of this planetarium was the training of astronauts for space. With the help of a centrifuge they were put into a weightlessness-like condition and had to complete different tests on reaction and orientation.

In the first years of studying bird migration in the wind tunnel in Seewiesen, the focus was on questions of metabolism (heart rates, wing beat frequencies, water balance, fat metabolism): How do the animals manage their yearly long-distance journeys from the point of view of energy? What is the “trick” they use to be able to do this enormous physical work, which would be completely impossible for humans?

<p>The structure of the wind tunnel</p>
Zoom Image

The structure of the wind tunnel

In addition to these questions about bird migration, it is also possible to obtain general data on aerodynamic aspects of flying birds in the wind tunnel of Seewiesen. As the Seewiesen wind tunnel has the same dimensions than the tunnel in Lund/Sweden, with the big settling chamber and the enormous contraction unit, a very low-turbulence airflow can be produced in the flight section, which is necessary for precise measurements.

Whether you are a scientist, hobby-ornithologist or just interested, whether you are child or adult, the wind tunnel will give you an insight, new discoveries and experiences around bird migration and ornithology in general.

This facility in Seewiesen offers visitors a fascinating view into the world of research. Thus, it performs the original task of science: To increase knowledge – not only within a small circle of researchers but for everybody. In this way the researchers at Seewiesen can make a contribution to the acceptance and support of basic research by the public.

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