Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bird Brain

Like Life Skills, It’s All A Matter Of Balance

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON



About twenty years ago, on one of our visits to Hong Kong, I was fascinated by the pavement vendors and the wide range of objects for sale. One of the toys that caught my eye was a simple plastic bird that balanced at impossibly precarious angles.

Of course, my scientific background was useful when I checked out one of the birds for the first time. I was struck by how unexpectedly heavy it was and I realised that it was a simple matter of allocating mass unevenly but towards a particular point. In this case, the bird’s head was by far the heaviest part, while the tail was extremely light.


Because of its clever design, the bird was able to balance on a pencil – and as you can see in these images, it does so in a strikingly unique attitude. The point of the bird’s beak acts as a perfectly stabilised fulcrum and it actually looks as though it is diving towards its prey.

It’s one bird that cannot shake its tail feather.


Check out the rules at Camera Critters or go to Misty Dawn.

22 comments:

Denise said...

Clever little bird, and a clever person whoever thought it up in the first place. Wonderful CC post.

Martha in PA said...

Very interesting!

My CC

Cynthia said...

Hey David! I was a Life Skills teacher for five years, and I never learned to do that trick! So the head has to be heaviest? It sure gives a new meaning to being big headed!

Jientje said...

Clever indeed, but so is your photography. I love the different backgrounds you used, highlighting the different colors of the bird as well as the different angles in your shots. YOU are the professional photographer, and I'm the student! I learn from you all the time!

Charles Gramlich said...

Lovely!

i beati said...

Got to say I have never seen such a toy ??

Tulip said...

wonderful shot of a beautiful bird. happy weekend.

my entry http://southbrowneyes.blogspot.com/

Carletta said...

Thanks for the lesson David.
Amazing how you can take a plastic bird and showcase it well - true skill of a photographer.
I fear my shots would just look like a plastic toy. :)

My post is here: Carletta’s Captures.

Carolyn Ford said...

Amazing and very interesting.

Anna said...

Wow David, good eye, it is in fact not that easy to balance object like that, I guess it is all about finding center of graving. Thanks for sharing about your travels and discoveries. Anna :)

Maggie May said...

That is a very clever toy that I have never come across before.
This was a very interesting post and the photos look great.

Brooke said...

What an amazing design. That is just great. Great shots, too.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

That's actually really interesting to me.

James said...

That is incredible!

Elizabeth Bradley said...

I bet that bird has started many conversations, it's amazing.

Dimple said...

Isn't physics fascinating? This bird balances just so, even though by looking at it, you wouldn't expect it to, because it is built to obey the laws of physics.

Seamus said...

I just love clever toys like this!

Brian Miller said...

very cool. we used to have one of these...of course i tried to balance it on everything in the house, just to see...

Debbie said...

I've always been fascinated by those birds. Maybe it is a search for balance that intrigues me.

NitWit1 said...

Hmmm...I have no balance not two feet, not one foot, not on tiptoe. I'm a failure in exercise class. Now I know I need to redistribute my weight....now if I can figure out how to do that!!!

The Things We Carried said...

We had a phase of this type of thing being popular in the u.S. Many of us kept such things on a shelf or desk. I see why it caught your eye.

Joanna Jenkins said...

These kinds of things always fascinated me. Thanks for sharing.