Readers’ wildlife photos

Besides contributing our “Duck O’ the Week,” John Avise has sent in several batches of photos over the last months. I will put them up on days other than Sunday. His contributions usually have a theme, like this one below (John’s words and IDs are indented):

Standing on one leg.  Many birds have the capacity to balance on one leg for long periods of time, sometimes even while sleeping.  They may do so for any of several comfort reasons: simply to rest the other leg; to regulate their body temperature by tucking the second leg inside the body’s feathers; or to facilitate wing-stretching.  Here are photographs of several avian species caught in the act of standing on one leg.

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula):

Willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus):

Adult Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax):

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron:

Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedora):

Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata):

Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera):

Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperi):


  1. Nicholas K.
    Posted October 7, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Many pastoralist people adopt a similar stance while out watching their herd. I recall seeing the Maasai people standing on one leg out on the plain. It is more comfortable. They switch legs every now and again.

    • Posted October 7, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      …it is also a well documented trait of the Aboriginal people in Australia…

  2. Posted October 7, 2020 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    What happens if there is wind?

    • C.
      Posted October 7, 2020 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Dunno. I don’t stand on one leg when I have wind, I only go so far as to lean over on one cheek…or maybe you didn’t mean THAT kind of wind?

  3. Posted October 7, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Terrific pictures! I am not sure why standing on one leg helps a bird to stretch.

  4. Lorna Salzman
    Posted October 7, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Why do some birds stand on one leg? Because if they didn’t, they’s fall over.

  5. Posted October 7, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    It’s my understanding that many of them actually sleep one half of their brain at a time, as cetaceans do. I’m not absolutely of this, though.

  6. Posted October 7, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Your wing/same leg stretch is depicted by Tinbergen’s book on the Herring Gull…

  7. C.
    Posted October 7, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Very cool collection of bird photos and equally wonderful for me is that the copy of your book, Captivating Life, that I ordered way back in September, subsequently lost by the USPS, showed up today! Three+ weeks late but I thought it was lost to the postal Bermuda Triangle! I’m looking forward to reading it! Thanks for all the great photos and duck info you share on here. ✌️

    • john avise
      Posted October 7, 2020 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      Great! I really hope you enjoy the book.

  8. jezgrove
    Posted October 7, 2020 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful photos as always. It seems that Stumble isn’t the only one-legged duck!

  9. Posted October 7, 2020 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful post, John!

  10. tjeales
    Posted October 7, 2020 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Great theme and beautiful birds

  11. openidname
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    What’s wrong with that Cooper’s hawk’s foot?

    • john avise
      Posted October 8, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      Nothing– that’s just how the hawk holds the foot that he is not standing on!

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