Three-dimensional simulation for fast forward flight of a calliope hummingbird

Jialei Song, Bret W. Tobalske, Donald R. Powers, Tyson L. Hedrick, Haoxiang Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


We present a computational study of flapping-wing aerodynamics of a calliope hummingbird (Selasphorus calliope) during fast forward flight. Three-dimensional wing kinematics were incorporated into the model by extracting time-dependent wing position from high-speed videos of the bird flying in a wind tunnel at 8.3ms−1. The advance ratio, i.e. the ratio between flight speed and average wingtip speed, is around one. An immersed-boundary method was used to simulate flow around the wings and bird body. The result shows that both downstroke and upstroke in a wingbeat cycle produce significant thrust for the bird to overcome drag on the body, and such thrust production comes at price of negative lift induced during upstroke. This feature might be shared with bats, while being distinct from insects and other birds, including closely related swifts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number160230
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 8 2016


  • Flapping wings
  • Forward flight
  • Hummingbirds
  • Unsteady aerodynamics


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