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Anouk Zijlma

Why Do Flamingos Stand on One Leg?

By February 21, 2014

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flamingo one leg

Why do flamingos stand on one leg? Previous theories suggested that a single-legged stance helped reduce fatigue, and/or it helped flamingos escape from predators more quickly, by shortening the time to take flight. And do flamingos favor their right or left leg? Is there such a thing as a right-legged or left-legged flamingo, a bit like being right or left-handed?

Well, recent empirical evidence suggests that flamingos stand on one leg to conserve body heat. If they put two legs in the water, rather than one, they would lose too much heat. Flamingos spend a lot of time wading, so this one-legged stance is particularly beneficial to them. There's also no such thing as a south-paw (leg) in the flamingo world, they change legs willy-nilly.

For more, check out this BBC's report.

And if you want to see flamingos in the wild, one of the best spots in the world is Lake Nakuru or Lake Elmenteita in Kenya.

Image of a Flamingo Sleeping On One Leg -- Getty Images/Chuck Eckert

August 27, 2009 at 2:19 am
(1) Travel South Africa says:

An online index of travel guides and brochures for South Africa, its accommodation, tours, wildlife and other attractions and services.

April 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm
(2) tim cook says:

If Flamingos stand on one leg to conserve body heat then why do they still do it in extremely hot weather. You would think in the extreme sweaty heat of say, Florida in summer the Flamingo would leave both legs down to cool off. But they don’t. They do it all the time, in all types of weather.

February 19, 2014 at 9:44 pm
(3) andyc740 says:

Flamingos stand on one leg because, if they picked up the other, they’d fall down!

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