Optics Mag is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Read more.

How Fast Do Hummingbirds Fly & Flap Their Wings?

Last Updated on

two hummingbirds in the tropical forest

How fast a hummingbird flies depends on the species. The Giant Hummingbird, for example, flaps its wings about 10 to 15 times a second, whereas the Amethyst Woodstar Hummingbird flaps its wings about 80 times per second. Most North American Hummingbirds average out at 53 beats per second.

As you can see from the examples above, there is a lot of variation about how fast a hummingbird flaps its wings. To learn more about how fast hummingbirds fly, which species of hummingbird is the fastest, and more, keep reading.

hummingbird divider

How Fast Do Hummingbirds Flap Their Wings?

All hummingbirds flap their wings at incredible speeds. Even the slowest of hummingbirds are known for their incredible flapping abilities.

On average, North American hummingbird varieties flap their wings 53 times per second. Shockingly, that’s not even the fastest hummingbird, though most hummingbirds flap somewhere around this number of flaps per minute.

The fastest hummingbird variety is the Anna’s Hummingbird, which is known to flap its wings up to 90 times per second. The Anna’s Hummingbird flaps its wings so quickly that it is the 15th fastest bird based on speed alone and competes against falcons, eagles, and other large predators.

The slowest hummingbird is the Giant Hummingbird. In contrast to the Anna’s, the Giant only flaps its wings 10 to 15 times a second. The reason that it flaps so much slower is because of its size. As you would expect from its name, the Giant Hummingbird is the largest hummingbird species.

hummingbird flying flower background

Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

How Many Times Do Hummingbirds Flap Their Wings in 60 Seconds?

How many times a hummingbird flaps its wings in a minute depends on how many times they flap per second. The Giant Hummingbird can flap its wings up to 900 times in one minute, but the Anna’s Hummingbird can flap 5,400 times per minute. North American hummingbirds, which fly at average speeds, can flap their wings around 3,180 times per minute.

What Is the Flight Speed of a Hummingbird?

The speed of a hummingbird depends on how fast it can flap its wings. As a result, the Anna’s Hummingbird is the fastest, with speeds reaching as much as 61 mph. To put that in in perspective, the Anna’s Hummingbird can fly 385 times its body weight in one second.

The Anna’s Hummingbird is the fastest bird on the planet relative to its size. Shockingly, Anna’s hummingbird is actually faster than the fastest fighter jet relative to its size. While the hummingbird can cover more than 300 of its own body lengths in a second, a fighter jet can only cover 39 body lengths in one second. Of course, the Anna’s Hummingbird must be diving to reach these speeds.

Still, hummingbirds are fast when “leisurely” flying. On average, most hummingbirds fly at about 30 mph when flying in a straight line.

hummingbird flapping wings

Image credit: Frank_DiLorenzo, Pixabay

Is a Hummingbird the Fastest Bird?

Relative to its size, the Anna’s Hummingbird is the fastest bird on the planet. However, Anna’s Hummingbird is not the fastest bird outright, not by a longshot.

The fastest bird in the world is the Peregrine Falcon. This bird flies at an average of 40 to 60 mph, but it often flies as quickly as 70 mph. When diving, the Peregrine Falcon can reach up to a whopping 242 mph. That is over two times faster than the fastest hummingbird.

What makes the Peregrine Falcon so fast is that it has pointed wings that allow the bird to slice through the air. In comparison, the Anna’s Hummingbird simply beats its wings so fast that it projects itself forward faster than most birds relative to body size.

How Do Scientists Know How Many Times a Hummingbird Flaps Its Wings?

Scientists know how many times hummingbirds flap their wings because of advanced cameras and technologies. To the naked eye, it is impossible to count how many times a hummingbird flaps its wings, even the slowest of the slowest hummingbirds.

By using cameras, scientists can slow the image down enough that they can count the number of beats per second, per minute, etc.

hummingbird divider

Final Thoughts

Despite their small sizes, hummingbirds are insanely fast. With the average hummingbird flapping its wings 50 times a second, it’s no shock that these birds are fast and flap their wings hundreds, if not thousands, of times per minute.

It is only thanks to the advanced cameras of today that scientists can even capture how many times a hummingbird flaps its wings per second.

Related Reads: 


Featured Image Credit: Ondrej Prosicky, Shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

Robert Sparks Profile Picture