Hummingbirds Are Rowing in the Sky

Anna’s hummingbird at UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, 2018 (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

25 August 2021

Hummingbirds hover and zip, levitate and fly backwards. How do they do it?

At more than 50 beats per second(*) their wings are so fast that we can’t see what they’re doing so UC Berkeley captured and filmed Anna’s hummingbirds in high-res video.

Played back in slow motion we see their wings moving forward and back in a figure 8 like oars in a boat. Hummingbirds are rowing in the sky!

Check out this PBS Deep Look.

(*) The fastest recorded wing beats were 80 beats per second by an amethyst wood-star hummingbird.

(photo from Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original, video embedded from PBS Deep Look)

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