Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hummingbirds Shake Their Heads To Deal With Rain

Hummingbirds Shake Their Heads To Deal With Rain, BBC, November 8, 2011
"Slow-motion footage has revealed how a hovering hummingbird is able to cope with wet weather.

The cameras show that the delicate bird shakes its head with such acceleration that it can reach a g-force of 34 (Formula 1 racing cars typically reach less than 6 g).

This mid-air manoeuvre takes just 0.1 seconds and removes almost all of the water droplets from its feathers."
Robert Dudley, one of the authors of the study, said:
"It is the extreme mobility - its head is going through 180 degrees in a 10th of a second or less - it is just extraordinary."
This Wired article explains that they are shaking their heads 132 times per second while they are flapping their wings 92 times per second. And they are doing this in mid-air "in precisely counterbalanced synchronization."

High-Speed Video Shows How Hummingbirds Stay Dry, Wired, November 9, 2011

All this flapping and shaking requires calories. This particular hummingbird eats about five calories a day, "which translates, from the dietary perspective of a 160-pound human, to more than 18,000 calories."

Birds are something else.


Bix said...

Imagine having to eat 18,000 calories a day? I recall reading some athletes, cyclists and swimmers, eat about 6000-8000. The problem with having to take in so many calories is digesting it. Cyclists scoff down huge platefuls of food at night and that has to move through the GI tract sufficiently enough that they can ride again the following morning.

Angela and Melinda said...

Sounds like irritable bowel syndrome to me, at very least.