They haven’t quite figured out the detailed mechanics of it but they did figure out why the birds are so stable on just one leg and why they don’t fall or their muscles get tired doing this - VERY interesting!https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/mor … 02045ac75b
When perching birds squat lower, it adds tension to the ligaments responsible for clenching the toes tighter around the perch so it’s no surprise. I find the Wandering Albatross much more surprising how it can sleep on the fly for years.
Yes, you are correct. When birds sleep, their toes ‘lock’ in place around the perch and this is an entirely mechanical effect of the repositioning of the tendons from the ‘crouching’ as you say. They also know that the flamingos legs have some sort of similar mechanism (because of the fact that they were able to reproduce it with a dead bird) but I gathered from the article that they think it’s made by the hip and/or the knee…And yes, although nobody has been able to prove it, it’s widely accepted that albatrosses sleep on the wing (swifts do it, too). But that’s not what I find the most interesting about them! What amazes me about them is that they can fly over 6,000 miles without flapping once! These bird can fly across an ocean without actually flying and just using what’s called dynamic gliding (or some such, I am not sure that is the precise term for it) but, basically, what it means is that their bodies are so aerodynamic and their wingspan is so long that they are able to ‘ride’ air currents and glide all the way without flapping once. What they do is move the angle of their wings so they can ‘climb’ the air currents (even against the wind!) by not only using the wings as the flaps on a plane wings but also very slightly banking in one direction and, when they reach a certain height (there is also a name for this ‘zone’ but I forget it now) and then go down slightly banking on the other direction just to do it over and over and over again so they can keep on advancing to the point that their hearbeat is the same during ‘flight’ that it is during rest. Now isn’t that incredible?! And you want another incredible fact about them? Their breeding season lasts one entire year from laying the egg to the baby (they have only one at a time) fledging! Good thing we don’t keep them as pets, right?
You’re not going to find anything half as astounding in mammals or any other sort of creature. Dynamic soaring is all about wind gradient (which occurs due to the friction and slowing of the moving air along the surface). The Albatross take advantage of this day and night to stay aloft.What baffles me more is how they can end up back on the same island they started on to breed after wandering out at sea for so long!?
Michael wrote:You’re not going to find anything half as astounding in mammals or any other sort of creature. You won’t get an argument from me on that! People who dismiss birds as irrelevant, unintelligent or uninteresting are simply people who have never taken the time to read about them because they are, by far, the most amazing animals on this planet!