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Amazing Fliers
Tiny Flying Acrobats
A hummingbird can zip backward, forward, sideways, and upside down. It can even hover in mid-air to sip nectar from flowers and feeders. What is its secret?

Unlike other birds, a hummingbird's wings attach to the body only at its shoulder joints. This adaptation enables a hummer to rotate its wings 180 degrees and move them in all directions.

Strong flight muscles are attached to the breastbone. A hummingbird can hover in mid-air, because its upstroke muscles are as strong as its downstoke muscles. When it hovers, the hummer is turning its wings over and back in a figure eight patten.

Did you know that a hummingbird flies with its hands? A short, thick upper bone, called a humerus, supports its large primary feathers and enables the hummer to quickly move its wings without bending them. In flight, the wings beat about 75 beats per second and sound like humming!

Tail Feathers
A hummingbird's tail feathers help it balance, take-off, stop, and steer!

hummingbird in flight
Photo: Martin Dollenkamp







Move Like a Hummer!

Stand with your hands out to the side, palms down. Create a "figure 8" movement: bring your hand forward and then up as you turn your palms up. Let your thumbs lead the way. As your hands go back, down and around, you'll be back where you started. Imagine doing this 50 to 80 times a second.