What Is Roosting?
Here's how two experts answered when we
asked: What does roosting mean?
Stehn, Aransas NWR biologist and Whooping Crane Recovery Team:
"Roosting refers more to cranes moving to a safe
location (called a roost)
to spend the night. It doesn't necessarily refer to sleeping, although
that is mainly what happens at a roost. You'd really have to ask
crane why it sometimes stands on one leg to sleep. Cranes can sleep
standing on one leg or two legs — they do both. They sometimes
head under their wing when they sleep; other times they simply stand
and the neck droops a little and they doze off. I don't know why cranes
stand on one leg. Perhaps it allows resting of leg muscles one leg
at a time. Perhaps it helps keep a leg warm during cold weather. Perhaps
are other reasons. I don't really know! The adults prefer water about
8 to 10 inches deep
for roosting to keep predators from sneaking up on them."
Klink, Visitor Programs Coordinator at ICF:
"By definition, roosting is "to sit, rest,
or sleep, as birds on a pole, tree or other perch at night".
I suppose their one leg could be considered an "other perch"
I don't believe the term roosting is limited to sleeping only while
standing up, but rather
the behavior of resting or sleeping. Also, cranes stand on one leg
for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it is simply a comfortable
position for them. It seems unrealistic to us, whose favorite sleeping
position is horizontal, but cranes favor the single leg posture. In
fact, we have been informed that if a crane is roosting on both
legs, it can be taken as an indication that the bird is in ill health.
practically speaking, standing on one leg allows the cranes
to keep the lifted leg warm by nestling it in their belly feathers.
Every few minutes, they'll switch to get the other leg warm as well."
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