June 10, 2009

Humming Birds Are Faster Than Jets

According to a new study, male hummingbirds achieve speeds "faster than fighter jets."

A researcher has taken pictures of the birds' dives with super fast cameras.  He was able to attract the males by using stuffed models of female birds.

The birds filmed reached speeds of almost 400 body lengths per second.

The courtship dives of male Anna's hummingbirds was recorded by Christopher Clark from the University of California - Berkeley on cameras able to capture 500 frames per second.

He said that when measured relative to the length of their bodies, the birds' top speed was "greater than a fighter jet with its afterburners on, or the space shuttle during atmospheric re-entry."

However, jet fighters are able to out-accelerate the birds.

In the latter part of their dives, the hummingbirds spread their wings to pull up and "instantaneously accelerate greater than any organism previously recorded undergoing aerial maneuvers," said Clark.

Clark said that the study was an example of how displays like this could be used to study the very limits of animals' abilities.


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