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Physics of the hummingbird 

 

Hummingbirds’ wings provide an impressive range of motion and precise movement, a maneuverability which can be largely attributed to their bone structure. Just past the blade of the scapula is the humerus, arguably the most important component in allowing such unrestrained and graceful flight. In 2011, a team of scientists attending the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill determined that in order to fly, the hummingbird twists its humerus to create lift. While most birds flap their wings in an up-and-down, vertical manner, the hummingbird propels itself via twisting, horizontal movement. This motion eliminates the inefficiency of an upstroke - while most birds flap their wings up and down, their lift is primarily gained from the wing’s downstroke.