September 27, 2012


Backing up usually isn't easy, yet when Nir Sapir observed agile hummingbirds visiting a feeder on his balcony in Berkeley, California, he was struck by their ability to reverse. ‘I saw that they quite often fly backwards’, he recalls, adding that they always reverse out of a bloom after feasting. However, when he searched the literature he was disappointed to find that there were hardly any studies of this particular behaviour. ‘This was a bit surprising given that they are doing this all the time’, Sapir says, explaining that the tiny aviators visit flowers to feed once every 2–10 min. ‘I thought that this was an interesting topic to learn how they are doing it and what the consequences are for their metabolism’, Sapir says, so he and his postdoc advisor, Robert Dudley, set about measuring the flight movements and metabolism of reversing hummingbirds (p. 3603).

journal reference (full text free): experimentel biology>>