Spend enough time in Florida or Baltimore’s Hampden neighborhood and eventually you’ll see a plastic pink flamingo perched on someone’s lawn, standing in its usual one-legged pose. Despite what the plastic flamingo manufacturers have lead us to believe, flamingos don’t come out of the egg knowing how to strike that particular pose, though. It turns out that the one-legged stance is a position flamingos have to learn and, according to a tweeted video making the rounds of the internet, it is not particularly easy to figure out as a little chick struggles and struggles to learn the position.
Lest you think this fluffy white bird is recreating the plot line of the Ugly Duckling where a white gosling has wandered into a flock of pink flamingos and will, thus, never master the one-legged pose, flamingo chicks are white or grey at birth. According to the BBC’s Science Focus magazine, flamingos are born with grey feathers, eventually taking on a their brilliant pink hue thanks to a diet heavy in brine shrimp that colors them with a natural pink dye called canthaxanthin. This baby flamingo may not be pink yet, but it is very much a flamingo just doing its best to do what nature intended.
Researchers believe that flamingos stand one leg to conserve energy and muscular effort, while they’re stationary and standing around looking fly. There are other theories, too, like better camouflage, managing blood flow, or preserving body heat. Whatever the reason, it’s an important balancing act for young flamingos to learn so they can stand on their own two feet while balanced on one leg. You got this, little chick.