Flamingos have balance aids built into their bodies. That lets them stand on one leg with little muscle effort.The stance is so stable that a bird sways less when it appears to be dozing than when it’s awake.
Ting studies this movement, called postural sway, in people and other creatures
Researchers studied flamingo skeletons in a museum. They saw features of the skeleton that might make birds more stable. Still, bones didn’t tell the whole story.
A flamingo’s hip and knee sit high up inside its body. What bends in the middle of the long flamingo leg is not a knee, but an ankle.
How the bird distributed its weight also seemed important for one-footed balance. The flamingo’s center of gravity5 was close to the inner knee. That’s where the bone starts to form the long column to the ground.
The new study helps researchers understand how flamingos stand on one leg. Still, it doesn’t explain why they do it, says Matthew Anderson. He’s found that more flamingos rest on one leg when temperatures drop. So he thinks that keeping warm might have something to do with it. They are still learning more and more about flamingo's every day.