Saturday, September 12, 2015

Hummingbird Wing

My hummingbird feeder is at the edge of the woods. The feeder is infrequently and only briefly in the sun. On Thursday, when I saw this Ruby-throated Hummingbird, with its wings blurred and backlit in the sunlight, I ran for my camera.

Researching the Internet gives you a lot of different numbers for how fast hummingbird wings beat. Wikipedia’s data seem similar to other sources—hovering, typical hummers flap their wings about 50 to 80 times per second. While hovering, the wings make a figure-8 pattern. Unlike large insects that generate lift equally with their up and down strokes, hummingbirds generate about 75% of their lift during the downstroke, and 25% on the upstroke. Furthermore, the downstroke uses less energy than does the upstroke.

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