The Hummingbird

by D.W. Cloud

The 300 species of hummingbirds vary in size from the giant hummingbird, with a length of about eight inches (20 cm.), to the bee hummingbird, with a length of about two inches (5 cm.).

The hummingbird can swivel its wings through an amazing degree of angles. The wings beat a figure eight pattern which allows it to hover and fly backwards (by moving the wings in a circular path over its head), sideways, and even upside down.

It can beat its wings up to 200 cycles per second and reach speeds of 50 miles per hour.

The wing muscles necessary to drive this flight system represent up to 40% of the bird’s total body weight.

Its long, thin beak is designed to feed on the nectar of flowers; its tongue has two furrows that it uses to store the nectar. The tongue can go in and out at a rate of 13 times per second, and is stored by being curled up at the back of the bird’s head. Its tongue is also fringed so it can sweep insects from inside flowers. “It cannot survive on nectar alone, but also needs protein from eating insects. Without its special tongue it could never catch these” (
A Closer Look at the Evidence, July 14).

One type of hummingbird is the fastest diving bird on earth.

“A peregrine falcon diving toward its prey reaches a relative speed of 200 body-lengths per second. This is close to the 207 body-lengths that the space shuttle travels as it enters our atmosphere. Thus, the peregrine falcon was thought to easily be the fastest dare-devil bird on Earth. Scientists have now discovered that a little pink male hummingbird called Anna’s Hummingbird is the real Top Gun among the birds. As part of its mating ritual, a male hummingbird will try to impress a female with his speed and acrobatics. First, the male will fly up to about 90 feet above the ground. Then, he begins a power dive. As he nears the female, he pulls up, ascending again. During that near-miss pull-up he experiences more than nine times the force of gravity. His relative speed during descent is 385 body-lengths per second. That’s almost twice the peregrine falcon’s relative speed, it’s faster than the space shuttle entering the Earth’s atmosphere and is more than twice the relative speed of a jet fighter running with afterburners” (

The ruby-throated hummingbird flies non-stop 450 miles across the Gulf of Mexico in 20 hours, beating its tiny wings nearly 3 million times on that amazing journey.

“The hummingbird is so different from other types of bird that it is impossible for the evolutionist to hypothesize that it could fit onto any evolutionary tree” (Stuart Burgess,
Hallmarks of Design, p. 137).
Kathmandu Traveler
David W Cloud