The Hummingbird Diner
Sometimes the coolest pictures are right in your backyard! I had set up a Hummingbird feeder last weekend and finally I was getting some action. To capture this beauty, I set up the camera on a tripod a few feet away from the feeder and patiently wait for the hummingbirds to arrive. They feed for around 5-10 seconds before zooming away. I adjusted the shutter speed to >1/1000 sec, or as fast as I could push it given the available light. Of all the shots, this one is unique as it shows the extreme range of motion of the Hummingbirds wings.
Hummingbird flight has been studied intensively from an aerodynamic perspective using wind tunnels and high-speed video cameras.
Writing in Nature, the biomechanist Douglas Warrick and coworkers studied the Rofous Hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus, in a wind tunnel using particle image velocimetry techniques (poor thing) and investigated the lift generated on the bird’s upstroke and downstroke. They concluded that their subjects produced 75% of their weight support during the downstroke and 25% during the upstroke. Many earlier studies had assumed (implicitly or explicitly) that lift was generated equally during the two phases of the wingbeat cycle, as is the case of insects of a similar size.
The Hummingbird is the only bird that can fly backwards. We noted that the birds wings move in a rough figure eight motion and its tail feathers are spread or contracted rapidly depending on if it is hovering, accelerating forwards or zipping backwards. Fascinating! On a personal note, when I was a child, I was attacted by a female hummingbird who was defending her young. She gave be a rather severe peck to the top of my head – ouch! www.kerstenbeck.com