Last Updated on January 16, 2022 by Guillermina
As a Hummingbirds enthusiast, you must have imagined if hummingbirds do fly backwards. If you are interested in watching hummingbirds when they are feeding or hovering about in gardens, you must have noticed some of their flight patterns.
These incredible flyers are capable of flying in different directions including backward. While some birds may fly backward for just a short distance especially for defense; hummingbirds have the ability to fly backward at length.
Hummingbirds can be seen flying in virtually all directions- upwards, downwards, backward, forwards, and sideways. A close study of the flight pattern of hummingbirds will show how special these birds can be. There are a few things that make all of these flight patterns possible.
This article will be discussing how hummingbirds are able to exercise this unique flight pattern. Their distinctive features making this possible will also be considered briefly. If you have ever been in awe seeing the bird fly backward and imagined how far they can do this, you will get answers also.
Now, before we delve into answering the question of how do hummingbirds fly backwards, let’s consider their flight pattern.
Flight Pattern Of Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds are the smallest species of birds that you may find around. They have a likeness for being in motion and flying around from tree branches to flower nectar, feeders, et cetera. These very tiny birds are hardly ever still unless they are resting or sleeping.
They are constantly in motion, and depending on the exact size or species, can flap their wings between 12 to 80 beats per second. When they are diving, they can flap their wings as much as 200 beats per second.
NO doubt, this is quite incredible and is one of the reasons why they are fun to watch. Their amazing flight pattern also makes it possible for these birds to do some breath-taking things like changing flight direction with ease. They are incredibly fascinating to watch.
How Fast Can A Hummingbird Fly Backwards?
As a hummingbird enthusiast, you must have noticed in the past that hummingbirds have the ability to fly backward as well as they can forward. Research has shown that it takes absolutely the same amount of energy for the bird to fly forward and backward.
The speed with which hummingbirds fly backward however varies depending on the size of the species of hummingbird. Their top speed can be as high as about 54 Km/h when they are in flight, and this can get as high as 79 Km/h when they are diving.
It is possible for hummingbirds to attain this impressive speed due to their wing-flapping rates. While the large hummingbirds can flap their wings as much as 12 beats per second, the smaller birds can exceed this. The smallest hummingbirds can flap at 80 beats per second.
If you have also imagined where the humming sounds come from, then you are in luck today. The reason hummingbirds hum is because of the speed with which they flap their wings when they are flying or diving.
How Far Can A Hummingbird Fly without Stopping?
Since you now know that a hummingbird can flap its wings at an unimaginably fast pace, can you guess how far a hummingbird can fly without possibly stopping? According to research, a hummingbird can fly about 1,370 miles (an average of 2,200 Kilometers) without taking a break.
This flight ability is one of the fascinating aspects of hummingbirds amongst a host of others.
Hummingbirds therefore can fly a mind-blowing 29 million times the length of their body in a single stretch. It is for this reason that these birds are easily found migrating during some parts of the year.
How Do Hummingbirds Fly Backwards?
You would agree with me that it is a little strange that hummingbirds can fly backwards. This is because hummingbirds are the only unique birds that have the ability to fly backward at some good length.
Hummingbirds are able to exercise a distinctive flight pattern because of the movement of their wings. Their wings usually stroke backward and forward unlike other birds. Other birds usually have their wings moving upward and downward motion.
Hummingbirds are also able to move their wings at about one hundred and eighty degrees at the shoulders. This means that the tips of the wings usually trace a figure 8 pattern as the bird is lifted by the forward and backward strokes.
This flight pattern is also possible because hummingbirds have a rotator cuff. This serves as a sort of support that strengthens the structure of the joint when in flight.
The bird can easily change the direction of its flight by changing the angle of its wings. This allows for a quick change in direction mid-air.
Why Do Hummingbirds Fly Backwards
Hummingbirds can fly forward, backwards, upside down, or in any direction they so desire. One of the major reasons why they fly in these directions is to allow them to feed with ease. So in a bid to remove their bill from the flower or feeder, they fly backward.
So, depending on how nectar is positioned or a feeder is placed, a hummingbird may fly in any of the above directions. Also, the male flies in these various directions and dive noisily to attract the females.
Read more about How High Should A Hummingbird Feeder Be?
Do Hummingbirds Fly Backwards: Conclusion
As you have seen from the above, hummingbirds have the ability to fly not just backward, but in all directions. They are one of the very few birds with this ability.
Also, they are able to carry on this flight pattern with little ease just as they would for their normal flight pattern. This is primarily because of their body structure and manner of wings movement. While other birds have their wings moving forward and backward, hummingbirds have theirs in a different way.
When next you are outside observing these lovely birds, do well to look closely so as to observe their wing movements. Also, if you are careful enough, you are sure to notice some of their exceptional flight patterns.