So, on the Planet of the Aves, Tres' sapient crows are the dominant sapient species. Given that your average bird spends plenty of time on the wing, how intuitive would they find subsonic aerodynamics, compared to us ground-bound humans, who have to crunch all sorts of numbers just to figure out how well a wing design will work? (Nowadays, we let a PC do that for us, but the idea doesn't change.)

Furthermore, assuming they can fly high enough and long enough for weather to be a factor, would they have an easier time understanding weather phenomena than we do? Could they simply glance at a storm and tell if it's a minor rainshower or a baby microburst being born? Would they be able to tell us things about icing layers that we haven't figured out yet?

A list of all Planet of the Aves questions can be found here.

  • $\begingroup$ a lot of weather prediction relies on precise data (temperature and the like) that even a super-sensitive organism probably couldn't detect accurately, we also rely heavily on satellite imaging to watch cloud formations for pressure systems and wind directions. Perhaps you could account for this with a team of weather-birds? $\endgroup$
    – XenoDwarf
    Sep 8, 2016 at 4:19
  • $\begingroup$ @XenoDwarf -- I think most of it would be their ability to intuitively understand the behavior of the underlying systems -- of course, they'd build data-gathering tools to go beyond what their own senses give them, but that's a separate problem from being able to make sense of whatever data you have :) $\endgroup$
    – Shalvenay
    Sep 8, 2016 at 4:28
  • $\begingroup$ I am aware that birds have an 'intuition' with weather, but it is limited to something like an hour or less before the event, so it's quite far from our week-before predictions. I agree that with our technology they would be much more accurate and skilled, but they'd still need equipment and 'number crunching'. That's the point I was trying to make. $\endgroup$
    – XenoDwarf
    Sep 8, 2016 at 4:36
  • $\begingroup$ Is this question to compare INTUITION of people vs. birds, or INTUITION of birds versus CONSTRUCTED CAPABILITY of humans? I ask because I think birds would have a significantly better intuitive understanding of atmospheric events, but weather predicting RADAR/satellites beat any animal at the macro level. $\endgroup$
    – GrinningX
    Sep 8, 2016 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ i would say that it would be hard for them to just intuitively know the weather IF they are anything like the birds on our planet. A sapient intelligent race of Aves can develop their knowledge of weather over a few generations significantly if they wanted to (oh that's a big black cumulonimbus cloud, better stay on the ground today). $\endgroup$
    – Skye
    Sep 8, 2016 at 14:00

2 Answers 2


Birds can hear infrasound which tells them lots of stuff about storms which we can't perceive until the storm is practically on top of us. These birds fled a storm which was hundreds of km away. While these birds avoid storms on their migration roue and it has been suggested that Australian birds head towards the arid centre (e.g. Lake Eyre) to breed when they hear a storm - and thus know that rain has fallen there.

So there will be a lot of weather phenomena which your birds will be able to sense directly.

Aerodynamics... just as humans since time immemorial have been making wooden legs and artificial arms for people who have lost a limb, your birds will doubtless have been experimenting with artificial wings. So they may have worked out a lot of the principles of aerodynamics even when they were a pre-literate/pre-numerate society. They'll crunch the numbers later, when their scholars are trying to explain what they already know in scientific terms.


I suspect that Aves would have an entire subset of language for understanding aviation, similar to the extended vocabulary that high latitude cultures tend to have about snow:

The claim that Eskimo languages have an unusually large number of words for snow is a widespread idea based on the work by anthropologist Franz Boas and has become a cliché; it is often used to illustrate the way in which language embodies different local concerns in different parts of the world. Boas didn't make quantitative claims but rather pointed out that the Eskimo–Aleut languages have about the same number of distinct word roots referring to snow as English does, but the structure of these languages tends to allow more variety [emphasis mine] as to how those roots can be modified in forming a single word.

The significance of this is in the ability to express and share ideas. With a broader vocabulary, or more nuanced phrasings, as seems to be the case above, people have the ability to express more complex and subtle ideas. It is experience and practice plus thought on a subject matter that promotes these extensions to language. And likewise the extensions to the language promote deeper thought and clearer communication on the subject matter.

Similarly, weather knowledge can be thought of from an experiential perspective. Farmers who have lived and worked in the same area for a period of time can often look at the sky, feel the air and predict with greater accuracy the weather in their local area than meteorologists whose job it is to track and predict weather on larger scales than what concerns a local farmer.

Aves, also I suspect, would have visual knowledge of the sky, but unlike a farmer they would have a physical sense of the sky from up in the sky. They could fly through turbulent air, taste it, feel the intensity of it, whether it is large and flowing turbulence, less chaotic turbulent air, or smaller, roiling turbulence, hotter, colder, wetter, drier, charged, etcetera. There would likely be an entire area of language that farmers or perhaps even meteorologist do not possess to such an acute degree.


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