How do hummingbirds flap their wings so quickly?

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Offline Seany

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How do hummingbirds flap their wings so quickly?
« on: 28/03/2008 23:05:33 »
Hummingbird
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Quote
Hummingbirds are birds of the family Trochilidae, and are native only to the Americas. They are known for their ability to hover in mid-air by rapidly flapping their wings 1580 times per second (depending on the species).


How on earth are they able to maintain the flapping of 15-80 flaps per second??
Why don't they just flap less, like a normal bird, and eat less nectar??
« Last Edit: 21/06/2008 19:47:25 by chris »
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Offline LeeE

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Re: How do hummingbirds flap their wings so quickly?
« Reply #1 on: 21/06/2008 18:55:09 »
They can flap so fast because they are very small.  Hummingbirds need to be able to hover very accurately and flapping at higher speeds increases the accuracy with which they can hover - once the hummingbird detects any drift it can't effectively start to correct it until the next flap, so a higher flap rate means a faster response against a smaller error, requiring a smaller correction.  A slower flap rate means a greater delay before the correction can be started, which in turn means that the error will have grown even larger, requiring a greater correction.
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blakestyger

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How do hummingbirds flap their wings so quickly?
« Reply #2 on: 23/06/2008 21:35:10 »
A tiny bird like that would have to take in proportionally a lot more calories than a larger bird because their area/volume ratio is higher and they stand to lose more heat at night when they are not feeding.
This doesn't account for the high flap rate but it might for the high feeding rate.

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Offline SquarishTriangle

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How do hummingbirds flap their wings so quickly?
« Reply #3 on: 24/06/2008 05:00:11 »
They hibernate at night, don't they?

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Offline Alan McDougall

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How do hummingbirds flap their wings so quickly?
« Reply #4 on: 01/07/2008 08:56:43 »
It is all about amazing conservation and use of energy exactly when needed.
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