High speed footage can reveal the unusual mechanics of a hummingbird's wingbeat. Here's how this remarkable aerialist keeps a level head, even in the face of aggressive wind and rain.
For its season finale, KQED's outstanding science series Deep Look (previously here and here) caught up with scientists at UC Berkeley who are studying the flight dynamics of wild hummingbirds. With the help of high speed videography, the researchers can monitor the hummingbirds' atypical wing movements one flap at a time, as the tiny birds respond to inclement weather scenarios inside a little hummingbird-sized wind tunnel, which doubles as a rain-simulation chamber:
We knew dogs weren't the only animals that shake to shed water (mammals of all shapes and sizes employ the technique), but who would have guessed that hummingbirds do it, too?