The hummingbird migrates 3,500 miles away and live five times longer than thought
>Ornithologists in the US say hummingbirds can live longer than 10 years
They have been tagging the birds for a decade to study their habits
Experiment has revealed that one bird flew 3,500 miles (5,630km) for winter
Hummingbirds have been found wintering in relatively cool areas below 18°C
Thousands of birds have been ‘banded’ and experts hope to learn about whether they migrate in one go, or stop off along the way
Hummingbirds are the only birds to hover in the air by relying on their strength alone.
In August, scientists found that it is the ratio of the bird’s wing length to its width that makes them so efficient.
The discovery is helping experts compete with 42 million years of natural selection to build helicopters that are increasingly efficient, which could match the performance of the best hummingbird.
David Lentink, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University in California, tested wings from 12 different species of hummingbirds, which he sourced from museums.
He positioned them on a machine used to test the aerodynamics of helicopter blades – so they spun around like man-made blades.
Together with his team, he used cameras to capture airflow around the wings and measured the drag and the lift force they exerted at different speeds and angles.
Professor Lentink’s team used the same machine to test the rotor blades from a ProxDynamics Black Hornet autonomous micro helicopter, which is one of the most efficient on the market and is used by the UK’s army in Afghanistan.
They found that the micro-helicopter’s blades are as efficient at hovering as the average hummingbird.
But while the micro-copter’s blades kept pace with the middle-of-the-pack hummingbird wings, they could not keep up with the most efficient hummingbird’s wing.
The wings of Anna’s hummingbird – a species common throughout the West Coast of the U.S. – were found to be about 27 per cent more efficient than the man-made micro-copter blades.