How Can a Hummingbird Stand Still in the Air?
A hummingbird can stand still, or hover, in the air because its wings move very fast. When hovering, a hummingbird doesn’t fly the way other birds do. A hummingbird’s body assumes a nearly vertical position.
Its tiny wings “scull” the air, gaining lift from what is more of a forward-and-backward movement than the more typical up-and-down flapping of other birds.
The hummingbird’s unique wings enable it to remain suspended in midair as it reaches into flowers with its long, slender bill and its even longer tongue, to sip the nectar or to gobble up insects.
Hummingbirds can fly right, left, up, down, backwards, even upside down. While other birds get their flight power from the down stroke only, hummingbirds have strength on the up-stroke, as well. A hummingbird’s wing is flexible at the shoulder, but inflexible at the wrist.
Most hummingbirds flap their wings about fifty or so times a second. This means all we can see is a blur. The Magnificent Hummingbird is an exception; sometimes it flaps it wings slow enough for individual wing beats to be perceived.
Hummingbirds lift from perches without pushing off; they rise entirely on their own power, flapping their wings at almost full speed before lifting off. Though they fly very fast, they can suddenly stop and make a soft landing. They are so light they do not build up much momentum.