r/NoStupidQuestions Jan 20 '22

Google is failing me - BESIDES OWLS what birds fly the most silent? Forcing results to exclude owl results just gets me rankings about the quietest chirps and noises and such but not flight. I wanted to read about how each flies so quietly and see if they evolved different methods or similar. ? Answered

I realize owls are apparently for sure the #1 quietest flyers and seemingly by a wide margin, but I can't find even the smallest scrap of information on what other species might come anywhere close. Not even hints or shitty sources, straight nothing related.

Hopefully someone here already knows more about the topic and can point me in the right direction.



u/chiagod Jan 20 '22

This article looks to have your answer:


Section "Do other flying animals have silent flight?"


u/wolfgang784 Jan 20 '22

Ty, this looks promising from the excerpt I read so far.


u/JHugh4749 Jan 20 '22

It wasn't my question, but your answer was excellent. Thank you for a new source of information.


u/Hunterofshadows Jan 20 '22

Owls being able to fly so silently is significant because it’s not a common thing.

I honestly doubt anyone has studied what bird is the second quietest.

You might get results searching indirectly. Search how various birds hunt for prey, that might help.


u/wolfgang784 Jan 20 '22

Good point, I had not considered that they are so much quieter than any other birds that finding a 2nd or 3rd place would be mostly pointless. There's sooo many kinds of birds I just incorrectly assumed that at least one of them would compare. Thanks.


u/thelmaandpuhleeze Jan 20 '22

Maybe ask in one of the birds/birding subs? r/birds to start…


u/weedinmylungs Jan 20 '22

Are you basing this off the wind? OR do birds actually make noises while flying?


u/wolfgang784 Jan 20 '22

Serious question, but are you deaf? Birds very much so make noise when flying. The loud flapping sound of a large flock taking off for example. You hear differences for different birds and can get an idea of things like size of the bird or how many are there without actually seeing it.

If a pigeon flew close behind your back, you'd hear it and know. If an owl did the same, you would hear nothing.


u/weedinmylungs Jan 20 '22

I guess I just havent been around enough birds lol. I see crows alot I never hear anything except their caws.

That noise is what im talking about, is that not them just fanning the wind. Fan wind into your ears, sounds likea bird.


u/Red-7134 Jan 20 '22

All I know is that if silence were loudness, owls would be the loudest flying animals.


u/El_Orenz Jan 20 '22

I have no reference to back up my claim, but my wild guess would be for eagles or hawks: most fly without flapping while they are up in the air (they use air currents to glide in the air), and then just dive when they spot a prey. The assumption is "no moving parts -> no noise", but I might be wrong


u/Shanpear Jan 20 '22

I've never actually seen/heard one take off, so I might be wrong on this one, but blue herons.

I've only spotted them flying a couple of times, but both times they were completely silent. The first time I had to do a double take because my brain didn't register that this big-ass-bird shaped thing gliding past was in fact, a big-ass-bird.

I thought it was a kite or something, but it would have been a very weird place to be flying a kite, and even weirder for said kite to suddenly produce legs and land gracefully on a tree branch.


u/TripleShines Jan 21 '22

Not really directly related to this question but if anyone can enlighten me on the best way to search for obscure questions I would appreciate it. Google is very good at finding things a lot of people care about, not so good at finding things that only a very small amount of people care about.