The Kid Should See This

Spinning hummingbird shakes off raindrops

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Hummingbirds are highly skilled at aerobatics, even in the rain. Under simulated rain conditions, researchers filmed wet Anna’s hummingbirds‘ flight capabilities at high-speeds, observing that the birds remained undisturbed even during spins, with their heads reaching accelerations up to 30 times that of gravity.

β€œThe shaking performed by hummingbirds is amazing,” marvels Victor Ortega-Jimenez, one of the authors of the 2011 study. β€œHumans have blackouts when they reach five times the acceleration of gravity.” From the paper:

“…hummingbirds exhibit a remarkable ability to perform both aerial and perched shaking to expel water from the feathers. Motions of the head, body, tail and wings are synchronized but the wings oscillate in a direction opposite to that of the head. Oscillation frequencies of the head, body and tail of aerial shakes were higher than for non-aerial shakes. Speed and acceleration of the body, tail and wings were roughly similar between shake types, but for non-aerial shakes, the speed and acceleration of the head were higher. Finally, using a head feather mounted on a oscillating disc, we found that feather flexibility increases the average speed and acceleration of the feather tip up to 36 per cent and 440 per cent more, respectively, than values calculated for an assumed rigid feather during uniform oscillation. The capacity of hummingbirds to perform high-amplitude head and body shakes while flying represents an outstanding example of aerodynamic control.”

A closer look via KQED Deep Look:
shaking off raindrops
Watch that video next. Plus: Hummingbirds fly, shake, and drink in slow motion.

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