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3 Amazing things about hummingbirds you probably didn’t know

It’s hard to look at a hummingbird and not admire their existence. These tiny birds somehow move with lightning speed and precision while innocuously meandering from flower to flower. However, there are many mysterious things about how hummingbirds act in natural and the types of things their tiny bodies can accomplish. So, here are 3 amazing things about hummingbirds you probably didn’t know.

Hummingbirds shake their heads in order to get water off them while it’s raining

It’s not secret that hummingbirds fly through the rain and many other weather conditions without much hassle, but for years, researchers had no idea how they dealt with the rain. According to NPR, researchers at UC Berkeley recently set out to find the answer and found that hummingbirds do something surprisingly similar to dogs. They whip their head around like wet dogs in order to get all the water off.

However, if you think you could watch this behavior while they’re at your hummingbird feeder, think again. Researchers slowed down footage of them and found they completely this act in .01 second. When they whip their head and body, it can reach a G-force of 34. Keep in mind that’s 5 times more force than Formula 1 racing cars, which typically only reach 6 on a good day. According to NPR, scientists might use this to develop micro air vehicles or improve the spin cycle on washing machines.

Hummingbirds can fly faster than jets

Again, researchers at Berkeley a few years ago used high-tech cameras to capture how fast hummingbirds go when they swoop down to impress females. According to the BBC, the researcher found a hummingbird can go nearly 400 body lengths per second. Here’s a translation:

When measured relative to the length of their bodies, the birds’ top speed, he said, was “greater than [that] of a fighter jet with its afterburners on, or the space shuttle during atmospheric re-entry”.

Everyone know hummingbirds can go amazing speeds, but it’s hard to quantify their speed relative to their body. We figure they’re small so they should go fast, but their speeds are among the fastest of a living organism. Simply astounding what some birds (or any species for that matter) will do to impress a mate.

Hummingbirds can chirp with their tails

The same researcher found while watching a hummingbird swoop that the chirping noise they make actually comes from their tails. According to the National Geographic, male Anna’s hummingbirds were seen flaring out their tail at the exact moment they supposedly chirped. Most birds chirp from their throat, but hummingbirds seem to do it from their tail.

So, how is this possible? Well, since hummingbirds can go so fast, they make their tails vibrate in a fashion similar to the reed on instruments. If you want to learn more and actually hear the chirping sound, check out this video.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.

5 Comments

  1. why do humming birds flare there tails?

  2. this was epic I got a lot of info in hummingbirds.

  3. Great info !! these little tiny creatures are very entertaining and the highlight of My day…

  4. My hummingbirds are wild -many of them & flying all over backyard to feeders & battling cooler temps & rain in Tucson AZ.

  5. They all came to feed a fallen baby hummer that I put in a little container up in a tree. I saved it from the ground put it there and as it screamed for feeding all kinds of humming birds came and fed the little guy! It got strong enough after a couple of days and flew off to live a grand life! There were several kinds of hummers feeding this bird! I was so impressed…

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