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Hummingbirds Shake Their Heads at Speeds That Would Render a Human Unconscious

When it’s wet and miserable outside, odds are you never asked yourself — huddled beneath your umbrella, trying desperately not to fall face-first into a puddle — about how hummingbirds stay dry in the rain. After all, damp feathers are the perfect breeding ground for disease, and the flying ability of the delicate birds can be hindered even by a little water.

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Turns out that Anna’s Hummingbird, despite water proof feathers, opts to dry itself by executing high-speed shakes in midair that would incapacitate a human. Research from University of California’s Victor Ortega-Jimenez and Robert Dudley found that while flying, the birds can shake themselves at 30 times the acceleration of gravity. Fun fact: Humans pass out at around 5 times the acceleration of gravity.

The team found that the birds shake themselves while perched, too. In fact, when standing still, the birds demonstrated the ability to shake themselves at even higher speeds, and for longer.

So if you’re playing along at home, you can add “superfast fluff and dry” alongside hovering and zipper tongue on the bizarre hummingbird checklist.

(via New Scientist, image via Wikipedia)

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