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791480.  Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:27 am Reply with quote

Humming birds are beautiful creatures, and I aquired my main snippets of knowledge about them from the wonderful book "Children's Miscellany"; "The average hummingbird weighs less than a small coin. Its newborn are the size of tiny moths and its nest is the size of a walnut."
If anyone could confirm, contradict or add to this information, I would be very grateful :)

791588.  Sun Feb 27, 2011 2:24 pm Reply with quote

I seem to recall that Hummingbirds prefer flowers with red petals, something to do with their sight.

791612.  Sun Feb 27, 2011 4:00 pm Reply with quote

I really do like hummingbird hawk moths and their cousins: here is a family photo gallery to enjoy.

I have seen several: one was displaying itself in the window (an Emerald one) of the finest shop in Venice for antique lace, negligees and linen; Emilia's in Burano. I did go in and rescue it, but it was such a lovely setting for such a lovely thing, that I wished I had a camera.


791665.  Sun Feb 27, 2011 6:27 pm Reply with quote

Aren't hummingbirds the only ones that can fly backwards? Or is that an urban myth?

791680.  Sun Feb 27, 2011 7:30 pm Reply with quote

I believe it's true. The dynamics of the wing motion are quite involved, but essentially they are the only birds which can develop lift on the back-stroke as well as the fore-stroke of the wing. The remainder use the forestroke to develop lift and the back-stroke to develop thrust. Hummingbirds can do this because the wing can pivot around the "spar" and asume a cambered shape in either direction.


791744.  Mon Feb 28, 2011 7:24 am Reply with quote

It's a myth - I see UK native birds regularly fly backwards and hover at our bird feeder. I've seen them hover for a few seconds - but backwards, not for any great period.

You might notice the lack of effect a landing bird can have on something hanging or a small twig. They need to create reverse thrust for this to be possible.

I think they simply change the attitude of their body to be more upright.

I first saw those moths some time ago in France - they are amazing. But seeing the iridescent plumage of the birds in their natural habitat as they fly around you is even better: as you trundle off to work in the morning.

791847.  Mon Feb 28, 2011 12:51 pm Reply with quote

Posital wrote:
It's a myth - I see UK native birds regularly fly backwards and hover at our bird feeder.

Were they flying backwards though or just not flying forward faster than the wind was blowing them back?

<----- Bird 5mph
--------> wind 8 mph
---> apperance of bird (flying backwards at 3mph)

791869.  Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:48 pm Reply with quote

Nope - definitely backwards - but I possibly overstated the regularity of it - as I'm not a twitcher by any means. No wind to speak of - it's a definite voluntary move to avoid another who got there first.

Just watch a crowded bird feeder.
There's lots of turning - possibly hovering - possibly backwards...

But not backwards or hovering in the same way hummingbirds do it...


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