Unique hummingbird flap, reported in Nature, vol. 435, p1094 and news@nature, 22 June 2005. Hummingbirds are famous for their ability to hover in flight, something other birds cannot do, but insects can. To see how much hummingbird hovering resembles insect flight, a team of scientists led by Douglas Warwick of Oregon State University, Corvallis, trained hummingbirds to hover in one place and took photos of the air currents swirling around their wings. From these they deduced that hummingbirds got 75% of flight lift during the downstroke of their wings and 25% during upstroke.

Other birds get lift only from their downstroke, but insects get equal amounts of lift from both downstroke and upstroke. Insects are able to do this because their wings are very flexible and they can invert them between the different phases of their flight movement. Hummingbird wings are not quite as flexible but can be partly inverted during the upstroke. Douglas Warwick commented: “Their wings are a marvellous result of the considerable demands imposed by sustained hovering flight.”

Editorial Comment: Hummingbird wings may be able to cope with “the considerable demands imposed by sustained hovering flight” but their wing ability cannot be the result of it. Hummingbirds could not hover until after they had both the wing structure and the nerve controls needed to hover. Any bird attempting to hover without these pre-existing abilities would fall to the ground – not a good way to start evolving into a hovering Hummingbird. It is far more logical to believe that both hummingbirds and insects can hover because their Creator gave them the right kind of wings and the brains to know how and when to do it. (Ref. design, aerodynamics, hummingbirds)