Stanford University Researchers Seek to Explain the Mysterious Hovering Flight of the Hummingbird

Researchers at the Lentink Mechanical Engineering Lab at Stanford University have been studying the way hummingbirds are able to hover. Using controlled studies, the team has devised a pressure-sensitive flight chamber that helps to explain the nimble, aerobatic motion of a hummingbird’s wings during flight, as shown in this fascinating video by bioGraphic.

Although scientists have studied hummingbirds for centuries, the secrets of the birds’ sustained hovering ability have remained a mystery…Researchers at Stanford’s Lentink Mechanical Engineering Lab have invented a device—a flight chamber outfitted with high-speed video equipment and ultra-sensitive pressure plates—that may finally explain how hummingbirds achieve their astounding aerial feats. By measuring the forces generated by a hummingbird’s individual wing beats, the scientists have developed the most accurate and detailed model yet of the physics involved in the hummingbird hover.