How Hummingbirds Work. WOW.

Hummingbirds often brave downpours to gather the nectar needed to avoid starvation. This Anna’s hummingbird shakes off rain as a wet dog does, with an oscillation of its head and body. According to researchers at UC Berkeley, each twist lasts four-hundredths of a second and subjects the bird’s head to 34 times the force of gravity. Even more remarkable: Hummingbirds can do this in flight as well as when perched.
SOURCES: VICTOR ORTEGA-JIMENEZ AND ROBERT DUDLEY. Photographs by Anand Varma / National Geographic.

I am just filled with awe after watching this:

Space may be the final frontier, but scientists have found plenty of head-scratchers right here on one of Earth’s zippiest creatures, the humble hummingbird. The July issue of National Geographic Magazine includes stunning photography by Anand Varma of ornithologist Christopher Clark’s experiments studying how the Anna’s hummingbird sees, moves, and eats.

Clark recreated studies from UC Berkeley and the University of British Colombia that use smoke, optical illusions, and specially-created tools in conjunction with high-speed cameras to reveal hummingbirds’ strange body parts. For example, the reason they can hover is because their unique bone structure allows them to create lift on the upswing, as well as the downswing of their wings.

You can see and read more about this at The Creators Project. I might have to put that video on a loop.


  1. rq says

    I am in awe. What refined movements in such a tiny package, and such beautiful feathers, too.
    That first photo, though -- it looks like one of those photos where they photoshop meteor or satellite trajectories. It’s magical, a tiny cosmos of its own.
    (Isn’t that its tongue, though, not beak (as written), splitting in two? If the beak, that’s so much more impressive!!)

  2. Raucous Indignation says

    Correct, that is their tongue. It’s naturally bifid or forked. The tongue also has tube like structures that wrap around nectar when they drink.

  3. Ice Swimmer says

    Truly amazing birds. They both strong and sophisticated in their use of the muscle power. The metallic red feathers in the neck are wonderful, they pop out from the green, light brown and almost transparent feathers.

  4. lumipuna says

    Apparently small animals are more resistant to G forces due physics scaling reasons -- and they also need more whiplash to shake off water droplets.

    Anyway, that slow-mo close footage of hummingbird eye blink was magical.

Leave a Reply