What Birds Can Fly Backward?

Key Takeaways

  • Hummingbirds are the only group of birds that can fly backward.
  • They achieve this feat thanks to their unique wing structure and rapid wing beats.
  • Understanding hummingbirds’ flight can provide insights into aerodynamics and robotics.


The world of birds is full of wonders, and one such marvel is the ability to fly backward. This unique skill is possessed by a special group of birds known as hummingbirds. This article delves into the fascinating world of these incredible creatures and their extraordinary flight capabilities.

Hummingbirds: Masters of Backward Flight

Hummingbirds are small birds known for their vibrant colors and rapid wing beats. Here are a few species of hummingbirds:

Hummingbird Species Description
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Known for its bright red throat.
Anna’s Hummingbird Named after Anna Masséna, Duchess of Rivoli.
Costa’s Hummingbird Recognized by its elongated gorget feathers.

How Do Hummingbirds Fly Backward?

Hummingbirds can fly backward thanks to their unique wing structure. Unlike other birds, hummingbirds have a ball-and-socket joint at the shoulder that allows them to rotate their wings in a full circle. This, combined with rapid wing beats of up to 80 times per second, enables them to hover in place and fly backward.

Related Questions

Question Answer
Can other birds fly backward? No, hummingbirds are the only group of birds that can fly backward.
How fast can hummingbirds fly? Hummingbirds can reach speeds up to 60 miles per hour in a dive.


The ability of hummingbirds to fly backward is not just a fascinating natural phenomenon, but also a subject of interest in the fields of aerodynamics and robotics. By studying hummingbirds, scientists can gain valuable insights that could potentially influence the design of future drones and aircraft.

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