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Press Release 05-103
Ultra-Fast Camera Captures How Hummingbirds Hover

Scientists reveal aerodynamics of the tiny birdís flight

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hummingbird and DPIV setup

Researchers used digital particle imaging velocimetry (DPIV) to study the aerodynamics of hummingbird hovering. DPIV couples a digital camera that uses a laser light source and a computer to track circulating microscopic oil droplets seeded in the air. The system allows scientists to follow the movement of individual particles when air is circulated by the bird's wings.

Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation


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Aerodynamics of hovering

Researchers discovered that hummingbirds differ from both birds and insects in how they hover. Hummingbirds support 75 percent of their body weight on the downstroke, which is actually a forward motion in the nearly vertical hovering birds. The new finding will provide engineers with a refined model for developing miniature autonomous flying vehicles.

Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation


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Rufous hummingbird

Scientists used computer-aided digital imagery to analyze the aerodynamics of rufous hummingbird hovering.

Credit: Dean E. Briggins, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


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