Many animals use impressive displays to seduce a mate, but few go as far as the male Anna’s hummingbird. He performs a death-defying courtship dive, plummeting to the ground at speeds and accelerations that put jet fighters to shame.
The tiny 7cm bird reaches a top speed of 60mph and at the fastest point of the dive, it covers 385 times its own body length every second. For its size, it’s the fastest aerial manoeuvre performed by any bird. In contrast, the famous attack dive of the peregrine falcon, while much faster in absolute terms, only covers 200 body lengths per second.
The hummingbird can even fly relatively faster than a jet fighter with afterburners ablaze, which only reaches 150 body lengths per second, or a space shuttle re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, which covers just 207 body lengths per second.