Hummingbirds generate bilateral vortex loops during hovering: evidence from flow visualization

Hummingbirds generate bilateral vortex loops during hovering: evidence from flow visualization Visualization of the vortex wake of a flying animal provides understanding of how wingbeat kinematics are translated into the aerodynamic forces for powering and controlling flight. Two general vortex flow patterns have been proposed for the wake of hovering hummingbirds: (1) The two wings form a single, merged vortex ring during each wing stroke; and (2) the two wings form bilateral vortex loops during each wing stroke. The second pattern was proposed after a study with particle image velocimetry that demonstrated bilateral source flows in a horizontal measurement plane underneath hovering Anna’s hummingbirds (Calypte anna). Proof of this hypothesis requires a clear perspective of bilateral pairs of vortices. Here, we used high-speed image sequences (500 frames per second) of C. anna hover feeding within a white plume to visualize the vortex wake from multiple perspectives. The films revealed two key structural features: (1) Two distinct jets of downwards airflow are present under each wing; and (2) vortex loops around each jet are shed during each upstroke and downstroke. To aid in the interpretation of the flow visualization data, we analyzed high-speed kinematic data (1,000 frames per second) of wing tips and wing roots as C. anna hovered in normal air. These data were used to refine several simplified models of vortex topology. The observed flow patterns can be explained by either a single loop model with an hourglass shape or a bilateral model, with the latter being more likely. When hovering in normal air, hummingbirds used an average stroke amplitude of 153.6° (range 148.9°–164.4°) and a wingbeat frequency of 38.5 Hz (range 38.1–39.1 Hz). When hovering in the white plume, hummingbirds used shallower stroke amplitudes ( $$ \bar{x} $$  = 129.8°, range 116.3°–154.1°) and faster wingbeat frequencies ( $$ \bar{x} $$  = 41.1 Hz, range 38.5–44.7 Hz), although the bilateral jets and associated vortices were observed across the full kinematic range. The plume did not significantly alter the air density or constrain the sustained muscle contractile frequency. Instead, higher wingbeat frequencies likely incurred a higher metabolic cost with the possible benefit of allowing the birds to more rapidly escape from the visually disruptive plume. Experiments in Fluids Springer Journals

Hummingbirds generate bilateral vortex loops during hovering: evidence from flow visualization

Loading next page...
Copyright © 2012 by Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
Engineering; Engineering Fluid Dynamics; Fluid- and Aerodynamics; Engineering Thermodynamics, Heat and Mass Transfer
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site


You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.

DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 12 million articles from more than
10,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Unlimited reading

Read as many articles as you need. Full articles with original layout, charts and figures. Read online, from anywhere.

Stay up to date

Keep up with your field with Personalized Recommendations and Follow Journals to get automatic updates.

Organize your research

It’s easy to organize your research with our built-in tools.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

Monthly Plan

  • Read unlimited articles
  • Personalized recommendations
  • No expiration
  • Print 20 pages per month
  • 20% off on PDF purchases
  • Organize your research
  • Get updates on your journals and topic searches


Start Free Trial

14-day Free Trial

Best Deal — 39% off

Annual Plan

  • All the features of the Professional Plan, but for 39% off!
  • Billed annually
  • No expiration
  • For the normal price of 10 articles elsewhere, you get one full year of unlimited access to articles.



billed annually
Start Free Trial

14-day Free Trial