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Did you know that hummingbirds can fly backwards?

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Hummingbirds usually fly backwards as they reverse from a nectar bearing flower after feeding.

Researchers at the University of California decided to record the birds' flight biomechanics using high speed cameras and oxygen uptake. They found that hummingbirds' backward flight uses similar amounts of energy to flying forwards and their results were published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

In their experiment Dr Nir Sapir and Robert Dudley used a sucrose filled syringe disguised as a flower at the end of a wind tunnel. High speed camera captured the movements of five hummingbirds as they fed from the syringe while the airflow in the tunnel was activated. By using a respiratory mask to measure the rate of oxygen consumption during feeding, the researchers found out that flying backwards uses pretty much the same amount of energy as flying forward. Hovering on the other hand uses much more energy and is then less efficient.

 

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