Hummingbirds are delicate marvels that are notoriously hard to study. They’re also tough despite their looks and their small size.
When researchers from UC-Berkeley put hummingbirds in front of a high-speed camera and added a wind tunnel to the mix, they learned how the tiny birds stay stable, as the The Kid Should See This reports. Unlike other birds, hummingbirds actually flap their wings in a figure eight movement, instead of up and down. They use their wings to control their body and steadywith a rudder-like tail. When faced with wind currents, the birds twist, turn and still stay stable.
“They have a whole variety of morphological and physiological adaptations that let them do that — they’re very super-specialized,” said [Robert] Dudley, who leads the Animal Flight Laboratory. “They are an amazing group to study flight control and maneuverability — that’s part of the reason why we’ve been working with them for 15 years.”