Sunday, February 6, 2011

Out on a limp, as it were...

Injuries and physical deformities are commonplace in nature. Not all of these result in the death of the injured. Here are two somewhat unusual and amazing stories of injured birds.

This Black-winged Stilt, posing like it is stretching its legs, had an injured foot. Two toes appeared completely broken off, and at least one more was broken. The Stilt foraged like this in the flooded fallow fields for hours hopping around on one leg. It appeared to be avoiding getting the injured foot wet. After a couple of hours, the bird hopped over to a dry spot and relaxed its injured leg, before hopping back in the field to forage again. When a dog appeared, the bird took off completely normally and landed in another flooded area. Talk about taking things into ones stride!

 Among a flock of Little Stints, a tiny wading bird that migrates across most of Asia to winter in India, there was one with only one leg (in the left bottom corner). The bird hopped around foraging in the wet soils almost as fast as stints with both legs. This long-distance migrant seemed to be faring well with just one leg. Are two legs in fact better than one?

(Photo information: Black-winged Stilt taken in Aligarh district, May 09, 2010; Little Stint taken in Haryana, Feb 27, 2010.)