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Hummingbird pulls Top Gun stunts

For its size, courting flier dives faster than a returning space shuttle

By
6:59pm, June 9, 2009

To see video of the male Anna's hummingbird's swift dive, click here.

They may wear too much pink to fit in among macho fliers. But when male Anna’s hummingbirds swoop out of the sky, they pull more g’s than any known vertebrate stunt flier outside a cockpit, says Chris Clark of the University of California, Berkeley.

During breeding season, the male hummingbirds soar some 30 meters and then dive, whizzing by a female so fast that their tail feathers chirp in the wind (SN: 8/25/07, p. 125). As the birds pull out of their plunge to avoid crashing, they experience forces more than nine times the force of gravity, Clark reports online June

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