Small Mystery –– Solved…

Bird’s eye view… Flamingo –– Albuquerque Bio-Park, Albuquerque, NM

So… I’m just thumbing through our archives hoping to see a thought provoking piece jump up and kick me into gear this morning. This seemingly shy Flamingo made it happen. Can’t say it’s a he or a she, but for sake of this thought it’s he. Mr. Flamingo. What is it with this guy? Asleep with one eye open –– further, (although not shown here) he’s standing on only one leg. Trust me, he was. Yes, we realize this isn’t unusual for Flamingos, it’s actually what they all do. But why?

Why pretend to sleep when he’s really awake? I can’t imagine being that tired, that exhausted (he’s never quite settled enough to close down and really snooze) because from what I gather, he’s inherently distrustful. And to top it all off, that one-legged balancing act?

So, let’s just do a little research: Ornithology, the scientific study of birds, is said to be one of the oldest organized scientific disciplines. Ornithologists are smart. They say they have figured the Flamingo out. Asleep with one eye open: It’s said this essentially shuts half their brain down while still providing a subconsious level of security. Ah! So he’s not really asleep. Slumber, maybe? Moreover, many species of long-necked birds rest their neck muscles by placing their heads on their backs and nuzzeling their beaks into their feathers. They state this also makes for better heat conservation. Standing on one leg –– well there’s another supposition that this performance also compacts more of their body together, making for better heat conservation, and because of the bird’s skeletal design, the balancing act expends less energy on muscle exertion. I guess this means a Flamingo rests better standing on one leg. Really? If I had to sleep standing on one leg, head around, chin resting between my shoulders –– with at least one eye open… On the bright side, I suppose there’s stuff I can do the Flamingo can’t, uh?

Okay then, I’ve conquered an age-old riddle (at least for me) and solved a small mystery this morning… What a relief! Now I can get on with my day…


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