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Sophie J
4396.  Wed Jan 14, 2004 6:45 am Reply with quote

I don't know if I'm being super-dense, but I can't see a 'bird' thread anywhere so here goes.....

Penguins are one of natures great defecators. In order to avoid messing up their feathers and their nests, they point their bottoms out of the nests and can shoot poo up to 40cm away, "leaving a streak in its wake". Researchers at the International University Bremen in Germany calculated that in order to do this the birds squeezed four times as hard as humans usually do.
Their poo also ranges in colour from white to pink.

s: New Scientist, 10th Jan, 2004

Sorry to begin the thread on such a base tone!

Sophie J
4397.  Wed Jan 14, 2004 6:49 am Reply with quote

The pink comes from the eating krill


4450.  Wed Jan 14, 2004 4:54 pm Reply with quote

Sophie - there is a Birds thread in the outer darkness, where this nice little factoid (without the pink colour though, which is a particularly fine addition to it) has cropped up. Won't hurt to have a Birds thread here though, to put in anything we want to keep from prying eyes and possibly use in a question.

4456.  Wed Jan 14, 2004 5:41 pm Reply with quote

The issue of why flamingoes stand on one leg was discussed in correspondence in the New Scientist in 1991. W. Smith supposed that because the flamingo has exceptionally long, thin legs it was difficult for its heart to return blood from its feet. Therefore, by standing on one leg and occasionally switching, the flamingo prevents blood from collecting in its feet.
L.J. Los replied that: "Farm animals are well known for letting sleep be linked to half of their brain at a time. In this way they can maintain a measure of alertness -- even while looking fast asleep. Flamingos roost upon one of their legs while the other half of their body is in the sleep stage. When the other half of their brain and body earns a rest, they change legs. A leg that is in the sleep stage would not support the bird as a whole."

P. Hardy suggested that flamingoes stand on one leg so that ducks only bump into them half the time.
(Various authors; "Flamingo File," New Scientist, p. 52, August 17, 1991.)

The majority of lakes where flamingos live have extremely high concentrations of salt. The only source of fresh water for some of these birds comes from boiling geysers. They are capable of drinking water at temperatures that approach boiling point.

Class Aves, Order Ciconiiformes, Family Phoenicopteridae - 3 genera, 5 species.

After mating, the male stands on the female's back, then jumps off over her head. He may then vocalize and shake his wings.

On Great Inagua Island, in the Bahamas, feral pigs prey on flamingos.

In early Roman times, flamingo tongues were carefully prepared, pickled, and served as a delicacy.

Andean miners have killed flamingos for their fat, believed to be a cure for tuberculosis.

In 1924, the James' flamingo was believed to be extinct. It was rediscovered in 1957 cohabiting with the Chilean flamingo.

The name is derived from the Latin for flame

The flamingo's eye is bigger than its brain (as is the ostrich’s). (no reliable source found for this assertion; it's one of those "facts" that comes up in all the lists).

4457.  Wed Jan 14, 2004 5:56 pm Reply with quote

From the database:

A skua holds the world record for the longest known journey* of any bird. One was ringed as a chick on Anvers Island, Antarctica and shot five months later at Godthabsfjord, Greenland. s:EBI

Honeyguides get their name from their bizarre habit of guiding people and other large mammals to bees' nests. Two species – the Greater honeyguide and the Scaly-throated honeyguide – are known to do this.

Many African tribes use Greater honeyguides to lead them to honey, which was once their only source of sugar. The birds give a distinctive chattering cry to call attention, then flit off towards the bees' nest in a series of short hops, stopping and calling frequently apparently to check the tribesmen are still following them. When the bird reaches the nest it falls silent. The men then stupefy the bees with woodsmoke and break open the nest with an axe. Some tribes leave a piece of honeycomb as a reward for the bird, others don't believe in spoiling them.

No one knows whether the Greater honeyguide does this because it needs human help in opening the nest, or because it is just jolly nice. Many species of honeyguide are perfectly capable of opening bees' nests on their own, and , though they eat wax, do not do any guiding. s: EBI

4464.  Wed Jan 14, 2004 6:33 pm Reply with quote

I like the one about 'why do flamingoes stand on one leg?' if we can only verify the actual answer. It would give a lot of scope for funny answers. The 'because half their body and brain is asleep' answer would be a good one, if true.

Best alternative answer I've seen - 'because they'd fall on their ass if they lifted it up.'

Last edited by Jenny on Wed Jan 14, 2004 7:07 pm; edited 1 time in total

4465.  Wed Jan 14, 2004 7:02 pm Reply with quote

A hitherto unsuspected (by me) resemblance between flamingos and whales:

Its method of feeding is similar to that of the baleen whales in that the food is taken in along with water and then the water is expelled through a comb-like structure (lamallae) leaving the food behind

4466.  Wed Jan 14, 2004 7:05 pm Reply with quote

The flamingo 'knee' is, in fact, an ankle, so the birds are effectively walking on tiptoe.

4467.  Wed Jan 14, 2004 7:08 pm Reply with quote

C. Sleep.

1. When flamingos are resting, they may sit down with their legs tucked beneath them or rest standing on one leg.

2. While resting, flamingos face into the wind. This stops wind and rain from penetrating their feathers. When resting on one leg, flamingos can be seen swaying back and forth in the wind.

D. Thermoregulation.

Flamingos frequently stand on one leg. Curling a leg under the body keeps the foot warm and conserves body heat. Flamingos stand on one leg in both cool and warm environments.

Sophie J
4476.  Thu Jan 15, 2004 3:53 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:

The only source of fresh water for some of these birds comes from boiling geysers. They are capable of drinking water at temperatures that approach boiling point.

Does that mean that Flamingos can also stand comfortably in that temperature of water? We [humans!] can also drink water close to 100 degrees C but you'd certainly hear about it if we stood in it.

4479.  Thu Jan 15, 2004 5:06 am Reply with quote

We [humans!] can also drink water close to 100 degrees C but you'd certainly hear about it if we stood in it.

Yes, that's curious, isn't it. Maybe in the old cannibals-boiling-the-missionary situation the missionary's best course of action is to drink the water.

I guess the answer about the flamingoes is that they must be able to stand in it, because otherwise they wouldn't be able to get at it to drink it. Unless it's like that thing in the bath where the water's too hot round your feet where the hot tap is running but not hot enough round your back, so you have to swoosh it round in a continuous circular motion similar to the action of turning a rowboat round, one oar forwards and the other backwards.

The fact that it took so many words to describe that familiar activity suggests a visit to the Meaning of Liff thread.

Birds' legs have rather few blood vessels, so they (the legs) are relatively impervious to extremes of temperature - isn't that how it works?

4481.  Thu Jan 15, 2004 5:44 am Reply with quote

Flamingos are pink because they of their diet. Fed differently they turn white. Not sure of ther source, I'm afraid.

4482.  Thu Jan 15, 2004 5:47 am Reply with quote

I can attest to that personally. They used to keep flamingoes in the Roof Gardens in Kensington in the days when I hung out there and they went white and had to be fed supplements to turn them pink again.

4486.  Thu Jan 15, 2004 6:38 am Reply with quote

No, no, no.

Flamingoes are pink because they are boiled.

A luke-warm flamingo, like a shrimp, is a kind of transparent grey. After twenty minutes in the geyser they slowly turn prawn-cocktail coloured, from the ankles (or elbows, as we flamingologists call them) upwards.

4488.  Thu Jan 15, 2004 6:45 am Reply with quote

You see - a seemingly inocuous set of factoids adding up to a rich collaborative conflationary comic concoction.


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