Hummingbirds are among my all-time favorite birds to watch. My grandmother has always hung feeders for them outside and we would sit out there for hours eating pomegranates we plucked from her tree and watching the pretty birds eat and flap their wings ?uper fast,?as my child self would have said.
It turns out that hummingbirds flap their wings at 50 beats per second and it could put them in danger of overheating, according to Science Magazine. So what do they do to prevent that from happening? Science Magazine reports that a study published in Royal Society Open Science reveals that hummingbirds “use their unfeathered regions, particularly their feet and eyes, to regulate body temperature during flight.?
Researchers used infrared technology to take thermal imaging footage of the birds as they flew through a wind tunnel, shown in the video above. Through this research, scientists discovered that hummingbirds have hotspots under their wings, on their feet and around their eyes and that these hotspots are a minimum of 8 degrees Celsius (46.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the rest of their bodies.
Science Magazine reports the study indicated that “The birds rely on different hot spots to regulate body temperature when flying at different speeds. Hummingbirds actually find it hardest to maintain a constant temperature when flying slowly, because there is less airflow to keep them cool. At lower speeds, they trebled the size of their eye hot spot and dangled their feet below their bodies to maximize heat loss.?lt;/span>
Scientists remarked that the ability for hummingbirds to keep cool as climates continue to grow warmer may be a challenge.