Phenomena

Hummingbird Hovering

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Hummingbirds have a unique way of flying among birds. By flapping in a figure-8 motion, they generate lift on both the upstroke and the downstroke, which enables them to fly forward, backward, and even hover for extended periods. Such mid-air acrobatics are necessary for a species that feeds on flower nectar. What is especially impressive about the birds, though, is how they hold up even in adverse conditions like wind or rain. By placing birds in a wind tunnel and filming with high-speed video, researchers can see how hummingbirds maintain their feeding position even in 20 mph (32 kph) winds. By fanning out their tail feathers like a rudder, they can control their body orientation despite turbulent gusts. Not even rain stops them. The birds will periodically shake themselves dry, much like a dog if a dog could manage to fly while shaking itself. (Video credit: Deep Look; submitted by entropy-perturbation)

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