How It Works

Why do flamingos stand on one leg?

For a long time this was a mystery. Then in 2009 two American psychologists studied a captive flamingo colony and concluded: it’s about conserving heat. Although flamingos are native to tropical climates, they spend most of their time standing in cold water and their long legs mean lots of exposure to it. Tucking one leg up helps to regulate their body temperature. They usually vary which leg is up and, when the weather is warmer, they’re more likely to stand on two legs.

Answered by Shanna Freeman, How It Works contributor.