I love watching birds. I love to watch them feed at our birdfeeders in the back yard and I love to sit and watch birds fly. Where I live, we have lots of cardinals, tufted titmouse, Carolina chickadee, song sparrows, American tree sparrows, house finch, American goldfinch and a number of other birds. But my favorite bird to watch is the hummingbird.
In northern Kentucky there are only three species of hummingbird, the ruby-throated, rufous and green violet-ear. The ruby-throated is the most common hummingbird in our area. Surprisingly, in Arizona where I used to live, there are 18 species of hummingbirds. Only Texas has more than Arizona.
Among the birdfeeders we have at the house, we have a hummingbird feeder filled with a bright red artificial nectar that they love. In fact, they love the red nectar so much that they fight and chase each other for possession and access to the feeder. Believe it or not, hummingbirds are quite aggressive and territorial.
The most amazing thing about hummingbirds is their flying capabilities. I don’t know of any other type of bird that can match the abilities of hummingbirds. They not only fly forward, but they can fly up, down, sideways, backwards and hover motionless in midair. With an average wing beat of 80 beats per second, their wings appear as blurs to our eyes. In order to get really sharp photographs of their wings in action, you have to take your photos at 1/500 or 1/1000 of a second or faster.
Nir Sapir, a biologist at the University of California at Berkeley also loves to watch hummingbirds. He not only loved watching them fly, but became enthralled with the hummingbird’s acrobatic aerial displays and decided to study and analyze their flying abilities. Sapir was joined in his study by Robert Dudley, a colleague of his at Berkeley.
The first thing they did was to film hummingbirds feedings at a feeder they set up in a wind tunnel. They started with no wind, and then filmed them again at a wind speed of 3 meters per second (6.7 miles per hour) which forced the hummingbirds to fly backwards in order to feed at the feeder. Then they turned the feeder 180 degrees around with the same wind speed to force the hummingbird to fly forward to feed.
By analyzing the videos they took, they discovered that the hummingbirds rarely changed the speed of their wing beats. What they did change was their body posture and the angle and direction of the wing beats. When they fly backwards, their bodies appeared to be more upright or straight up and down. They had to bend their heads down in order to feed. Their wing beat also changed angle and actually increased frequency over when they flew forward.
Commenting on what they learned, Sapir said:
That is quite a lot for hummingbirds because they hardly change their wing beat frequency.
They also studied the hummingbird’s metabolism during the flight tests and what they found surprised them. Sapir again commented:
We expected that we would find high or intermediate values for metabolism during backward flight because the bird has an upright body position and this means that they have a higher drag. Also, the birds use backward flight frequently, but not all the time, so we assumed that it would not be more efficient in terms of the flight mechanics compared with forward flight.
What they found was that hummingbirds used the same amount of energy flying backward as they did flying forward. Hovering used about 20% more energy than flying forward or backward. They plan on conducting more studies in the future.
According to the studies so far, hummingbirds are very energy efficient fliers. They use less energy flying backwards than what the scientists expected. Man has never been able to come close to inventing anything that can fly with all of the capabilities and efficiency of a hummingbird.
And to think that evolutionists want you to believe that hummingbirds are just the product of millions of years of random chance mutation and absolutely no intelligence involved. Yet with all of man’s intelligence, we can’t create anything close.
If you ask me, hummingbirds are God’s perfect flying machines that demonstrate just how infinitely wise our Designer and Creator God really is. And I know you’ve seen this verse before, but I pray that the next time you watch a hummingbird fly, you remember this favorite verse of mine – Job 12:7-10:
But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.
Smith, Bret. Study Shows Hummingbird Flight Is Both Adaptable And Efficient, Red Orbit, Sept. 27, 2012.
By Dr. Jonathan Sarfati
Today, the ID (intelligent design) movement is capturing headlines (and igniting controversy) around the world. But in the process, many are coming to think that a credible challenge to the dominant Darwinian naturalism of our time means backing away from a clear stand for the truth of the Bible.
Now creationist heavyweight Jonathan Sarfati, whose Refuting Evolution has the most copies in print of any creation book ever, challenges this mindset head on. In the process, By Design is set to become a classic of the creation movement in the same vein as Dr Sarfati’s comprehensive Refuting Compromise, which is arguably the most powerful biblical and scientific defense of straightforward Genesis in existence.
Paperback, 150 pages