John's Nature Pictures

Marbled Godwit

These crazy birds sleep standing on one leg! That is so the waves coming in and out don't sink both feet into the sand. Notice one of them has a weed draped around it's leg by a wave (that is the Pacific Ocean at the top). They usually have one eye half open, looking for danger. Since they sleep in a group there is usually at least one bird looking in each direction. If danger approaches they can put the dry foot down and quickly pull the other foot out of the sand, and get away. Survival-of-the-fittest does not favor birds with both feet stuck in the sand. The other thing is that these birds have very long beaks for digging in the sand for food. In order to rest their necks while sleeping they have to turn their heads around backwards and rest their beaks on their backs. Very strange.

Recently, some researchers weighed down some godwits with tracking devices, and were surprised to learn that those birds can still fly non-stop from Alaska to New Zealand. Can you imagine flying almost half-way around the world without food, water, or rest?

Picture #105 -  copyright © 1988 by John Sherman


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