A Mesmerizing Look at Hummingbirds in Flight
MASTERS OF FLIGHT
When it comes to aerodynamics, hummingbirds are fine‑tuned machines.
VIDEOS BY ANAND VARMA
Using a high-speed, high-resolution camera, photographer Anand Varma captures what the naked eye can’t see—the breathtaking maneuvers of a hummingbird in flight. Varma teamed up with scientists studying the biology of hummingbirds to reveal the secrets behind these captivating creatures.
An Anna’s hummingbird drinks artificial nectar from a glass vessel. The bird’s forked tongue makes a sipping motion up to 15 times a second.
Letting hummingbirds loose in wind tunnels allows researchers to probe the mechanics of flight at airspeeds of up to 35 miles an hour. A fog of water vapor makes the wind movement visible.
The wings of some species flap up to a hundred times per second.
A hummingbird shakes off rain the same way a wet dog does, with an oscillation of its head and body.
The smallest hummingbird weighs in at only 1.8 grams, which is less than the weight of a penny. The largest hummingbird tips the scales at around 20 grams.
Hummingbirds are the only birds that can hover in still air for 30 seconds or more.