Do Flamingos Sleep Standing Up?

Do Flamingos Sleep Standing Up?
Photo by SergeGoujon/

Flamingos are peculiar creatures. They’re bright pink, they drink boiling water, they’re found on beaches and high in the mountains - they have their quirks. But one of the most foreign things about the fabulous fowl to us humans is that flamingos sleep standing up.

And flamingos don’t just sleep standing up, they sleep standing up on one leg. This likely isn’t a shock to learn considering how notorious these birds are for chilling on a single stem, but it seems insane to lock yourself in that position while unconscious, but that’s precisely what the fabulous fowl does.

How Do Flamingos Sleep?
Photo by BrianPrawl/

Flamingo Sleep Standing Up on One Leg!

You’d think flamingo legs would be too tired to hold up their weight after a long day - we all know plenty of people for whom that’s true (maybe even yourself!). But no, it’s quite the opposite for this unique animal.

Flamingos naturally prefer standing on one leg when they’re not doing anything. We don’t know with certainty why this is, but some reasonable theories have been created. Pulling a leg out of the water helps the birds conserve heat, plus it seems as though flamingos are simply more comfortable standing on one leg than two.

Flamingo Sleeping
Photo by SharonMorris/

There have been a range of zoos and other organizations that have tested flamingos and their preference for one leg. At the Philadelphia Zoo, researchers confirmed that it isn’t because standing on one leg gives flamingos a better starting position in the event of a predator attack. At Zoo Atlanta, it was learned that flamingos fall asleep much easier while on one leg and that they sway much less while held up by one pillar as opposed to two. This doesn’t make sense to our human brains and legs, but when your knee is your ankle, you can do some crazy things.

Flamingos’ comfortability for standing on one leg was further proven at the Birmingham Zoo. Researchers there used two flamingo cadavers and positioned them on one leg and learned that even when not alive, flamingos can stand perfectly balanced on a single stem. If they can do it when they’re dead, they can definitely do it while asleep.

Efficiency is the name of the game, and it seems that flamingos have found their best way to get a good night’s rest. Sleeping upright and on one leg probably won’t have the same effect for you, so I wouldn’t recommend trying it, but if you are stubborn enough to try, please do the courteous thing and report back to me so I can laugh at you.

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