Researchers at University of California Berkeley are sending hummingbirds where no hummingbirds have ever gone before: Into a wind tunnel to study their extraordinary flight maneuvers. The birds’ visit to the wind tunnel does not harm the birds, who get a free, quick meal before being released back into the wild.
Watch this video from KQED to see these amazing creatures in slow motion:
Hummingbirds are found only in the Western Hemisphere and can be spotted from southeastern Alaska to southern Chile. When aloft, their rapidly beating wings produce a buzzing or humming noise – hence their name. Agile flyers, hummingbirds can readily move in all directions — up, down, backwards and upside down — and they can also hover in place!
Hummingbirds dine on flower nectar and tree sap, using their long, tapered bills to extract nectar from flowers. They also dine on small insects and pollen. Hummingbirds weigh just a few ounces — at most — and live about five years.
If hummingbirds reside in your area, creating a hummingbird garden will help you attract more of these winged beauties to your home. Hang a clean hummingbird feeder stocked with fresh nectar and refrain from using pesticides, which could harm these tiny creatures and kill the insects they rely on as food. Plant shrubs (such as asalea, butterfly bush, and weigela), vines (such as morning glory and trumpet creeper) and annual and perennial flowers (such as hosta, petunias and salvia). Hummingbirds who visit will remember your yard and will continue to visit hospitable environments!
- The bright radiant color on hummingbirds comes from iridescent coloring like on a soap bubble or prism, and are used to attract mates.
- Hummingbirds are very smart and they can remember every flower they have been to and how long it will take a flower to refill.
- Hearing: Hummingbirds can hear better than humans, but have little to no sense of smell.
- Sight: Hummingbirds can see farther than humans and can even see ultraviolet light!
- Their hearts beats up to 1,260 times per minute and their metabolism is roughly 100 times that of an elephant.
- Hot Stuff: Their body temperature is around 107 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Fast & Furious: Their maximum forward flight speed is 30 miles per hour, though they can reach up to 60 miles per hour in a dive.
- Despite their small size, hummingbirds are one of the most aggressive bird species and will regularly attack jays, crows and hawks that enter their territory.
Historically, they were hunted for their vibrant, colorful feathers. At present, habitat loss/destruction are the bird’s main threat to survival.