Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
Airs Weekdays 2:43 and 3:43 a.m.

Hummingbird Hustle




Photo by Noah Whiteman, University of California, Berkeley

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Want to drive the chicks wild? Shake a tail feather!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Nature is filled with mating dances.  Peacocks shake their tails, spiders shimmy, and flamingos Flamenco. They all boogie to their own beat, but is the timing of their two-step important?

Benedict Hogan and Mary Stoddard at Princeton University checked out the hummingbird dance floor.  

Male broad-tailed hummingbirds have iridescent throats and perform U-shaped dives to woothe ladies.  Their color changes at different angles and their tails buzz as they dive. Sexy!

Hogan recorded about fifty of these dives in the Rocky Mountains.  He analyzed the birds’ speed, sound, color, and motion -- from a female hummingbird’s perspective.

It’s quite the performance!  After reaching top speed, males tilt their heads and buzz their tail feathers.  These acrobatics change their throat color and the sound of the tail buzzing.   All this happens in less than half a second!  

Researchers believe this magical male multi-tasking attracts females by demonstrating superior qualities.

As for HUMAN males? They have to rely on their disco moves…minus the polyester suit, please!