Hummingbirds' superspeed dive bombs

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19 Responses to “Hummingbirds' superspeed dive bombs”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Aren’t stunt pilots trying to impress girls as well?

  2. Jardine says:

    If we’re going to measure by body lengths per second, I’m guessing there might be insects who will shatter these records. And then the birds will be all “Well, it’s really about absolute speed anyway” and the humans will point to aircraft and the birds will say “biologically achieved absolute speed”.

  3. zuzu says:

    The trick is all about impressing females.

    Same goes for those aforementioned human stunt pilots.

  4. Takuan says:

    it’s always about impressing the chicks…

  5. Brainspore says:

    I love watching those guys do this to impress the chicks. They usually let out a high-pitched peep just as they pull out- I like to think that if you recorded that sound and played it back at slow speed you’d hear “YEEEEEEEEHAWWWWWW!!!”

  6. phisrow says:

    @Takuan: In the avian context, only pedophiles want to impress chicks…

  7. Jonathan says:

    Been waiting for a wonderful hummingbird post for an excuse to share a trick the neighbor showed me recently:

    If you put your hands around the base of a hummingbird feeder, the hummingbirds will happily land right on your fingers as they insert their beaks into the hole, and suck out the sugar-water from the tube.

  8. Blackhat says:

    @Brainspore, there was a report from this group last year explaining how the Anna males make that high-pitched peep, for which nobody had previously found a definitive explanation. Turns out it’s not a vocalization, it’s made by wind through their tail feathers at the bottom of the dive! So I wonder if the dive is all about the peep, or just a side-effect.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      I saw two males get into a fight in Golden Gate Park once. Not only did they spin around each other like Yoda with a light saber, but they raised the feathers on their faces so that they both appeared to have huge, brightly iridescent heads. It was a bit frightening despite their tiny size.

  9. hectorinwa says:

    I see your hummingbirds and raise you a handful of bats!

  10. Takuan says:

    some high quality video there, Hector!

  11. cosanostradamus says:

    .
    I’ve tried that. It doesn’t work

    You know what does work? A full loop-de-loop followed by a somersault into the bird bath. And a platinum VISA card. Or just the card.

    Don’t leave the nest without it.
    .

  12. neurolux says:

    I’ve seen that behavior in Griffith Park. I wondered what that was about, and I forgot to Google it when I got home.

  13. Nasty says:

    I’m going super sonic.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the info and video.
    I saw this behavior only once back in the day (1957 or 58) while registering for classes at Cal Poly. There were two birds doing the dive swoop thing and I thought they were fighting over the blooming bushes around the registration line.

  15. alisong76 says:

    I wonder if the girl hummingbirds really are impressed, or if they just give each other the teeny weeny peenie sign?

  16. TroofSeeker says:

    I’ve got a hummingbird feeder right outside the dining room window. One male we call ‘Bullybird’ won’t let hummingbirds from other clans drink there- he chases them off.
    I carved a phony hummingbird out of styrofoam and painted it to look pretty realistic, using a spring from a ball-point pen for a leg, so I could attach it to the perch. Bullybird has pecked the top of his head off.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Jonathan Livingston Hummingbird!

  18. Anonymous says:

    I agree that body-lengths-per-second isn’t a meaningful measure. It reminds me of the “ants can carry 50 times their own body rate” metric–sure, it may be true, but it doesn’t scale up to larger sizes. If hummingbirds were the size of eagles, they wouldn’t be breaking the sound barrier.

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