Adaptations: The Tail
Click for labeled photo
tails have fewer tail feathers (10) than most birds have (12). This
reduces the hummer's weight to save energy when flying.
tails, like the tails of other birds, help them to steer and to balance.
The muscles controlling the feathers and tailbone can move the tail
up and down to allow sudden stops to hover at a flower, or to zip away
when a big bumblebee approaches! When it's full speed ahead, the tail
straightens out so the hummer is streamlined.
tail feathers are stiff enough to brace a perching hummingbird without
getting frayed. Even though they frequently scrape on branches, hummer
tail feathers are sturdy. Remember, each tail feather must last a full
This! Go Fly a Kite!
- If you
have ever tried to fly a kite, you know how important a tail is! If
you haven't, well, get out there and try it!
airplanes don't have a tail. How does this affect their flight? Do they
make sharp turns? Can they stop in mid-air and then go again? Have a
paper airplane contest to see whose airplanes can fly the farthest.
No way could we humans fashion a paper airplane with the fine controls
of a hummingbird's body!