Hummingbirds are the fighter pilots of the avian world, diving and weaving at speeds of up to 55 kilometers per hour—then turning on a dime to hover midair, wings frantically beating, as they refuel on nectar.
Now, through herculean efforts, researchers are one step closer to figuring out what makes the animals so nimble. The new work not only helps explain their complex choreography, but it may also lead to more maneuverable robots and drones.
Hummingbirds can fly as fast as 60 miles per hour during courtship displays, but their average flying speed is closer to 30 miles per hour.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds have been clocked in a wind tunnel flying up to 27 m.p.h. One kept up with an automobile going 45 m.p.h.; another kept up with a car going 55 - 60 m.p.h.
Hummingbirds can fly not only up and down but sideways and even upside down. They beat their wings in a figure-eight pattern similar to insects, making them the only vertebrates capable of sustained hovering.
The average speed of hummingbirds is 26 mph, with a much slower 2 mph used between flowers Astonishingly, some males reach speeds of 55 mph or more when diving during courtship.
Hummingbirds fly by day when sources of nectar are the most abundant. They also fly low, which allows the birds to see, and stop at, food supplies along the way. Research indicates a hummingbird can travel as much as 23 miles in one day.
No other birds can fly like hummingbirds. They can fly forward, backward, and even upside down! Hummingbirds are also the only vertebrae capable of hovering for a period of time during flight.
Not only do hummingbirds move from place to place quickly, but their body parts also move rather fast as well.
A hummingbird's heart beats from 225 times per minute when it’s at rest and more than 1,200 times per minute when it is flying. Its wings beat about 70 times per second in regular flight and more than 200 times per second while diving.
These hummingbirds really do have many adaptations for unique flight.