How Birds Take Drinks
Every Year in winters, I generally took out my woollens after watching a flock of gulls on Yamuna bank!!
The exclusive birds that are migratory for New Delhi come far from ladakh and stay here for around two months. This time it was a usual day and in a flock of around 200 birds my eyes goes on a bird with one leg, and I come to the conclusion.
There are different ways birds can have a foot or leg amputated. Depending on the extent of the injury it isn’t always possible to tell how the bird was disabled, but common causes include…
Tangling: When thread, fishing line, wire or a similar thin, durable string is tightened around a bird’s leg, it will eventually cut off circulation to the limb and cause amputation. This is particularly true if the thread is tightened so far that it is cutting into the leg, or if the bird is young and still growing. Many tangles occur in the nest, when hatchlings get wrapped in unsafe nesting material.
Predators: A hunting predator may surprise a bird, and as the bird takes flight, the predator may be able to catch hold of a leg. Depending on the type of predator and the strength of their grip, the leg may be broken or bitten off right away, or it may be twisted off in the course of struggling, even as the bird escapes.
Deformities: Some birds are naturally hatched with bad legs, due to deformities inside the egg. Many of these young birds will not survive to leave the nest or learn to forage effectively with the disability. If the initial deformity is not severe, however, they may mature but be handicapped with a bad or missing leg.
Injuries: On rare occasions, birds may suffer unusual injuries that can lead to leg amputation. If the leg is caught in something – wedged in a niche, snapped in a rodent trap, stuck to glue trap, etc. – the bird may struggle and be able to free itself, but with a grievous injury that leads to the leg tissue dying and eventually falling off. Despite the severity of the injury, the bird may be able to recover and adapt to its new handicap.
Is That Leg Really Gone?
Before assuming a one-legged bird really is an amputee, it is important to know that birds can often appear to have lost a leg without really missing any limbs. Many birds tuck one leg into their plumage to warm it up on cool days, or else to keep it off a hot surface in the summer.
This is a common form of temperature regulation, and any birds – flamingos, ducks, geese, raptors, shorebirds, songbirds – may seem to be missing a leg now and then. Birders can watch carefully, however, and will notice that the birds will switch leg periodically, shifting their balance to the other leg.
To truly note whether a bird has one leg, watch for movement. A one-legged bird will hop, or may bounce on its abdomen. It may have more difficulty landing or perching, or may seem to dip or weave as if unbalanced, without putting down that missing leg to correct itself. Right after take-off, when most birds dangle their legs as they gain altitude, a one-legged bird will, of course, show only one leg.
When a Bird Loses a Leg
Many times when a bird is horribly injured or disabled it will not survive. Other consequences of the injury, such as weakness or infection, may take a toll as well, but there are times when birds adapt amazingly well to being one-legged. Birds do not suffer the psychological trauma of a lost limb as humans would, but instead adapt their behaviour to compensate for the missing leg.
Life is more challenging for a bird with one leg. These birds often lose their mates or have more difficulty finding a mate, particularly if the species’ courtship displays require two healthy legs. If the bird needs two legs to forage – such as a double-footed scratch in leaf litter or using two sets of talons to capture prey – they must either adapt quickly or they will succumb to starvation. One-legged birds are more vulnerable to predators, and their lifespans are typically shorter than uninjured birds.
Birds that adapt most readily to losing a leg are generally omnivores that can take advantage of multiple food sources. They may not migrate and not have to deal with the stresses of migration. Birds in urban or suburban habitats may adapt even more easily because of the availability of feeders and bird-friendly backyards that provide ample resources.