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Caribbean Flamingo resting behavior and the influence of weather variables

An Erratum to this article was published on 23 November 2012


This observational study of captive Caribbean Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) sought to investigate the possible functions of unipedal and bipedal resting. In particular, this research sought to further examine the possibility that thermoregulation is a primary function of unipedal resting. Significant negative correlations were found between length of unipedal resting and average temperature, and between length of unipedal resting and average heat index, indicating that temperature is a major factor in determination of resting stance. A significant negative correlation was also obtained between length of unipedal resting and average wind chill, but as the observed wind chills did not significantly differ from the temperatures, such a finding is to be expected. These results suggest that flamingos rest on one leg for longer intervals in an attempt to conserve body heat. Further, a significant positive correlation between length of bipedal resting and average wind speed suggests that on windy days, a bipedal stance is preferred to enhance stability when resting.


Diese Studie von in Gefangenschaft gehaltenen Rosaflamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) versucht, die möglichen Funktionen des Ruhens auf einem und auf zwei Beinen zu untersuchen. Insbesondere sollte die Möglichkeit, dass Thermoregulation eine Hauptfunktion des Ruhens auf einem Bein ist, geprüft werden. Signifikante negative Korrelationen wurden zwischen der Länge des Ruhens auf einem Bein und der Durchschnittstemperatur sowie zwischen der Länge des Ruhens auf einem Bein und dem durchschnittlichen Hitzeindex gefunden, was darauf hindeutet, dass die Temperatur beim Bestimmen der Ruhehaltung eine wesentliche Rolle spielt. Eine signifikante negative Korrelation wurde außerdem zwischen der Länge des Ruhens auf einem Bein und der durchschnittlichen Windkühle festgestellt, doch da die gemessene Windkühle nicht signifikant von der Temperatur abwich, kann man einen solchen Befund erwarten. Diese Ergebnisse deuten darauf hin, dass Flamingos für längere Zeitintervalle auf einem Bein ruhen, um Körperwärme zu konservieren. Ferner deutet eine signifikante positive Korrelation zwischen der Länge des Ruhens auf zwei Beinen und der durchschnittlichen Windgeschwindigkeit darauf hin, dass an windigen Tagen eine zweibeinige Ruhehaltung bevorzugt wird, um die Stabilität während des Ruhens zu verbessern.

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The authors wish to express their gratitude to the Philadelphia Zoo for granting permission to observe the flamingos. In particular, we wish to thank Dr. Aliza Baltz, Curator of Birds, for her assistance throughout this project. We also thank Nielsen-Kellerman (Boothwyn, PA, USA) for their generous donation of the Kestrel 4000 Pocket Weather Tracker and tripod that were employed in this research. Partial funding for this work was provided by a Saint Joseph’s University Summer Scholars Program award.

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Correspondence to Matthew J. Anderson.

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Communicated by C. G. Guglielmo.

An erratum to this article can be found online at http://10.1007/s10336-012-0913-4.

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Bouchard, L.C., Anderson, M.J. Caribbean Flamingo resting behavior and the influence of weather variables. J Ornithol 152, 307–312 (2011).

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  • Caribbean Flamingos
  • Phoenicopterus ruber
  • Unipedal
  • Bipedal
  • Resting
  • Thermoregulation