New paper co-authored by Damian Elias describes how hummingbird feathers 'sing' during courtship

September 09, 2011

A new paper co-authored by Professor Damian Elias and published in the recent edition of Science magazine identifies the cause of sounds made by some hummingbird species during courtship.

While courting, a male hummingbird will typically climb into the air five to 40 meters and then quickly dives down past a perched female. When the male bird bird reaches the lowest point of his dive, he rapidly spreads and closes his tail feathers, causing them to flutter and generate sound.

Read the paper online.

Lead author and UC Berkeley alumnus Christopher Clark explains how hummingbirds generate sound with their tail feathers in the video below.

Credit: Christopher Clark