Media playback is unsupported on your device

Slow motion footage reveals hummingbird wing secret

3 July 2013 Last updated at 17:29 BST

Footage shot with high-speed cameras has revealed how hummingbirds' tiny wings bend and flex to keep them in the air.

Masateru Maeda, a PhD student at Chiba University in Japan, captured the footage as part of a study that eventually aims to build hummingbird-inspired artificial wings.

The researchers found that the birds' primary feathers - the main flight feathers along the outer edges of their wings - slide as they flap. This changes the shape and size of the wing, precisely controlling the lift that the wings produce.

The research was presented at the Society for Experimental Biology's annual meeting in Valencia, Spain.

Footage courtesy of Masateru Maeda and Prof Hiroto Tanaka

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.