Hummingbird Airspeed Velocity

A while back, I was looking at the Hummingbird familiar (Dragon Magazine 323) which uses stats given for the thrush in the DMG... and aside from my assertion that hummingbirds should have a Good manuverability rating, not average... the listed 40 ft flight speed seemed rather low to me.

So I went about on the net a bit and it turns out that that birds roughly have an average crusing speed roughly between 20-40 mph which is 29.33-58.67 feet/sec. Another source stated 8-23 m/s which is 26.24-75.46 feet/sec. These airspeeds have little or no relation to size.

A round lasts six seconds, and a move action is roughly half that. That means the statistical flight speed given for birds as a whole in general should vary between 90 and 180 ft (or between 80 and 225 ft if going by the second estimate).

Although, even before this rough estimate, it has been my assertion that many of the D&D airspeeds given for birds in general should should be much greater. I thought I might as well share what I found out while looking into this.

If a hummingbird's average cruising speed is 25-30 mph...

This speed is the effective migration speed for most hummingbirds. They've been known to fly at this speed for up to 26 hours without stopping. In D&D terms, means moving at a hustle, for which birds clearly need an additional natural ability to do so for extended periods while traveling.

25 mph = 36.67 ft/s
36.67 ft/s * 6 seconds = 220.02 ft per round
220.02 per round / double move = 110.01 ft speed

30 mph = 44.00 ft/s
44.00 ft/s * 6 seconds = 264.00 ft per round
264.00 per round / double move = 132.00 ft speed

Therefore, I'd put the statistical flight speed of a hummingbird at 120 ft (good).


A creature using natural flying speed can use the run action. As with any other run action, the creature must move in a straight line. A flyer using the run action cannot gain more than 5 feet of altitude, but it can lose any amount of altitude, and it gains the normal bonus movement for the altitude lost (5 feet per 5 feet descended, a maximum of twice its normal flying speed.) For example, a harpy could use the run action to fly 320 feet in a straight line. While doing so, it could not gain more than 5 feet of altitude.

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