Artist Juan Fontanive's kinetic sculptures also happen to be beautifully illustrated, mechanical flip books.
Above, Colibri, graphite and colored pencil on paper, stainless steel, delrin, motor, electronics. 2011. Below, Violetear, acrylic and graphite on paper, stainless steel, delrin, aluminum, motor and electronics. 2011.
The takeaway discussion with the kids included: it’s not easy to record a hummingbird, video sounds might not always be real, and sound effects can be made with stuff around the house. So go grab some props and make your own!
This video was shown at the TED conference in 2011, with scenes from “Wings of Life,” a film about the threat to essential pollinators that produce over a third of the food we eat. The seductive love dance between flowers and pollinators sustains the fabric of life and is the mystical keystone event where the animal and plant worlds intersect that make the world go round.
Meet Biologist Doug Altshuler. He’s a hummingbird fan and has created a “hummingbird training center” in his lab to test their agility, as well as to record their twists and turns with multiple slow motion cameras. The secret to their talents: hovering… which ties into that whole flying backwards and upside down while turning on a dime thing that they do. #incredible
This clip is from "Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air." You can watch the entire documentary on pbs.org. We also have a few more slow motion hummingbirds in the archives.
Victor Ortega-Jimenez and Robert Dudley of the University of California, Berkeley, studied the high-speed acrobatics by filming birds under a simulated rain shower and tracking their motion from the video. They found that their flight wasn’t disrupted while spinning and that their moving heads reached up to 30 times the acceleration of gravity.
"The shaking performed by hummingbirds is amazing," says Ortega-Jimenez. "Humans have blackouts when they reach five times the acceleration of gravity."
Although a hummingbird’s feathers naturally repel water, the impact of a raindrop can make moisture seep through. The ability to expel water could therefore help them avoid chills and stay healthy. When perched, the birds can shake for twice as long at even higher speeds.