How Do You Film A Bird Whose Wings Flap 70 Times a Second?
By Leora Eisen  

Their hearts beat at more than a thousand beats per minute. Their wings flap at 70 beats per second.  Hummingbirds, says University of Lethbridge biologist Andy Hurly, are “little energetic juggernauts.”

So how on earth were we going to capture the fleeting beauty of a wild hummingbird on video?

That was the question on my mind as we followed Prof. Hurly to a remote research station in the Rockies, where he has studied the brainpower of wild rufous hummingbirds for the past 25 years.

But I needn’t have worried. The answer arrived just in time, when talented Alberta cinematographers Daron and Aaron unveiled the Phantom camera, capable of shooting in super slow motion – 1500 frames per second!

SCENE FROM THE FILM: Hummingbirds are amazing at remembering the location and types of flowers.

Prof. Hurly and colleague Sue Healy from the Univ. of St. Andrews waited in anticipation as we downloaded the footage. They rarely get a chance to see the creatures they love up close. 

The results are breathtaking. Watch our little “making of” video and let us know if you agree. And make sure you tune in to “Think Like an Animal” on The Nature of Things Nov. 24 to see more gorgeous animal footage, featuring sperm whales, bearded dragons, vervet monkeys, and more.

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