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Waders flying with folded legs – which species, when, where and why?

Lindström, Åke LU and Alerstam, Thomas LU (2020) In Wader Study 127(2). p.1-8
Abstract

Waders normally fly with their legs stretched out under the tail, with their feet pointing backwards. Whereas there are a few published records of waders flying with their legs folded forward (like a passerine), with legs and feet tucked in under the belly feathers, the causes and consequences of waders flying with folded legs are poorly understood. Through searching the literature, asking ornithologists in person and through public calls, and from searching photos on the internet, we retrieved 90 records of 17 different species where one or more individuals flew with folded legs. It was most common in Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus (in up to 10% of all birds) and Common Redshank T. totanus, but was also observed in short-legged... (More)

Waders normally fly with their legs stretched out under the tail, with their feet pointing backwards. Whereas there are a few published records of waders flying with their legs folded forward (like a passerine), with legs and feet tucked in under the belly feathers, the causes and consequences of waders flying with folded legs are poorly understood. Through searching the literature, asking ornithologists in person and through public calls, and from searching photos on the internet, we retrieved 90 records of 17 different species where one or more individuals flew with folded legs. It was most common in Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus (in up to 10% of all birds) and Common Redshank T. totanus, but was also observed in short-legged species such as Dunlin Calidris alpina and Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula. The behaviour was recorded in most months of the year, in different age classes, in single birds as well as in flocks, at different ambient temperatures, and in both migratory flights and local move-ments. Whereas reducing heat loss at low temperatures is a likely, but not omnipo-tent, explanation for waders flying with folded legs, aerodynamics and leg muscle fatigue may also affect how waders keep their legs in flight.

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author
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organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Aerodynamics, Bird flight, Leg muscles, Leg posture, Shorebirds, Temperature regulation
in
Wader Study
volume
127
issue
2
pages
8 pages
publisher
International Wader Study Group
external identifiers
  • scopus:85088276520
ISSN
2058-8410
DOI
10.18194/ws.00187
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
bb95fba3-9b50-4c3d-8817-cd3af81b4f9b
date added to LUP
2021-01-08 15:36:10
date last changed
2021-04-16 09:02:33
@article{bb95fba3-9b50-4c3d-8817-cd3af81b4f9b,
  abstract     = {<p>Waders normally fly with their legs stretched out under the tail, with their feet pointing backwards. Whereas there are a few published records of waders flying with their legs folded forward (like a passerine), with legs and feet tucked in under the belly feathers, the causes and consequences of waders flying with folded legs are poorly understood. Through searching the literature, asking ornithologists in person and through public calls, and from searching photos on the internet, we retrieved 90 records of 17 different species where one or more individuals flew with folded legs. It was most common in Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus (in up to 10% of all birds) and Common Redshank T. totanus, but was also observed in short-legged species such as Dunlin Calidris alpina and Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula. The behaviour was recorded in most months of the year, in different age classes, in single birds as well as in flocks, at different ambient temperatures, and in both migratory flights and local move-ments. Whereas reducing heat loss at low temperatures is a likely, but not omnipo-tent, explanation for waders flying with folded legs, aerodynamics and leg muscle fatigue may also affect how waders keep their legs in flight.</p>},
  author       = {Lindström, Åke and Alerstam, Thomas},
  issn         = {2058-8410},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {1--8},
  publisher    = {International Wader Study Group},
  series       = {Wader Study},
  title        = {Waders flying with folded legs – which species, when, where and why?},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.18194/ws.00187},
  doi          = {10.18194/ws.00187},
  volume       = {127},
  year         = {2020},
}