The term can also be used to describe oblique views, drawn from an imagined perspective. Before manned flight was common, the term "bird's eye" was used to distinguish views drawn from direct observation at high locations (for example a mountain or tower), from those constructed from an imagined (bird's) perspectives. Bird's eye views as a genre have existed since classical times. The last great flourishing of them was in the mid-to-late 19th century, when bird's eye view prints were popular in the United States and Europe.
The terms aerial view and aerial viewpoint are also sometimes used synonymously with bird's-eye view, but are not as precise: bird's-eye view almost always specifically means looking straight down, perpendicular to the surface below. The term aerial view can refer to any view from a great height, even at a wide angle, as for example when looking sideways from an airplane window or from a mountain top. Overhead view is fairly synonymous with bird's-eye view but tends to imply a less lofty vantage point than the latter term. For example, in computer and video games, an "overhead view" of a character or situation often places the vantage point only a few feet above human height. See top-down perspective.
Recent technological and networking developments have made Satellite images more accessible. Microsoft Live Search Maps offers a Bird's Eye feature. Resources such as Google Earth offer a complete bird's eye view of the planet. Satellite imaging programs and photos have been described as offering a viewer the opportunity to "fly over" and observe the world from this specific angle.