Q:

Why do ducks stand on one leg?

A:

Quick Answer

Ducks and some other birds stand on one leg, called unipedal resting, to help regulate and maintain body temperature. A bird on ice reduces the amount of unfeathered surface exposed to the elements by standing on one leg.

Continue Reading
Why do ducks stand on one leg?
Credit: John Haslam Flickr CC-BY-2.0

Full Answer

The evolutionary adaptation that helps minimize loss of warmth is called "rete mirabile." Birds' legs will come in contact with the cold surface, and the arteries that move warm blood into the legs come in contact with veins that, in turn, take colder blood to the bird's heart. By subtracting the amount of unfeathered surface that touches the cold ground, birds keep themselves warmer. The same concept applies when flamingos stand in water.

The leg may bend slightly in order to maintain balance. The base of the foot aligns with the center of gravity. Switching legs during unipedal resting helps prevent tissue damage from one foot touching the ground for too long, according to researchers at St. Joseph's University. Birds can regulate their body temperature through other methods. Turning away or toward the sun affects the bird's body temperature as well. Standing in water tends to cool down birds. Fluffing out feathers is also another method to increase insulation and warmth.

Learn more about Birds

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What do you call a baby puffin?

    A:

    Like other birds, baby puffins can correctly be referred to as chicks. However, those who would like to be more specific may use the term 'puffling' to refer to puffin hatchlings.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are the characteristics of a mockingbird?

    A:

    The only mockingbird found in North America is the Northern Mockingbird, a robin-sized bird known for mimicking the songs of other birds. It is gray on top with a white chest and a long tail. Its wings are black and gray with two white bars.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What kinds of birds can you purchase from the Murray McMurray Hatchery?

    A:

    Murray McMurray Hatchery sells chickens, ducks, geese, pheasants and other fowl. Depending on the season, they also sell guineas, peafowl, partridges and quails. The hatchery offers a wide variety of specialized breeds for sale but only accepts orders for varieties of fowl listed on its website.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How do you breed mandarin ducks?

    A:

    According to Canary Zoo, mandarin ducks reach sexual maturity when they are one year old and lay eggs in the springtime. These ducks form breeding pairs that often last for several seasons, although the males frequently breed with additional females while their primary hen is incubating a clutch of eggs. Each clutch incubates for 30 days and contains up to 12 eggs.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore