Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 18, 2012

Does anyone know why seagulls stand on one leg?

I was walking along the beach late this afternoon and I spotted flocks of seagulls looking for evening snacks. They have learned to hang around fishermen in the hope of sneaking off with some bait or the odd small fish.



The fishermen left and the gulls stayed to watch the sea.


And to practise standing on one leg.







Some were even hopping around on one leg, I can’t imagine why.

Anyway, it was a gorgeous afternoon at the beach…..between rain showers. We have had some extreme weather lately, which makes for some interesting skies.







Any ideas on the seagulls?


I am at Main Beach for a few days. This is where I grew up….beside the beach….what could be better?

Click here, here, here and here for more on this lovely beach.


  1. And I thought you were going to tell us why! I found this online and it makes sense…”seagulls and other birds stand on one leg basically to warm up a bit. Birds suffer heat loss through their legs in much the same way we lose heat through our heads. By tucking one leg against the warmth of their body, they reduce the heat loss by half.”
    (This was from S. Freer on Flickr

    • Thank you! That makes complete sense, it was late afternoon and starting to get a bit chilly.

  2. Clouds and a stormy day?…no I think not…most likely they appear to be keeping warm in their fluffy little overcoats or tutus pehaps 🙂

    • I’m sure their feathers do a fine job, but their legs get cold, it appears.

  3. “What could be better?”………. Why, Bagni di Lucca of course!!

    • I’ll take both.

  4. Love your birdies & sand, but what is that city in distance??? Is that Brisbane? An elaborate sandcastle? A figment of my imagination??

    • That is Surfers Paradise. Main Beach is at the northern end of about 20 miles of white sand beach in a part of southern Queensland known as the Gold Coast. We came to Main Beach in 1957 and I grew up at the beach…..I have the sun spots to prove it.

  5. Beautiful beach. Some of the photos look like watercolours – they are lovely.

    • It is bright and sunny today…quite different.

  6. Ciao Deb, they stand one one leg because if they stood on no legs they would fall down

    • That would be called sitting.

  7. Great question. ANd thanks to margieinitaly for the answer. Fascinating, isn’t it? Who knew!

  8. Body temperature management is the most likely explanation for why birds stand on one leg since the unfeathered legs and beak dissipate the most heat. Birds have very high metabolisms with body temperatures between 104F and 112F.

  9. I sometimes wish that I could tuck my cold feet up under my armpits, one at a time of course. 😀 Lovely sky pics, Debra.

    • You need to practise yoga.

  10. Very interesting and love the pics. I will be watching to see if our San Diego seagulls stand on one leg, as well. Even though it’s warmer here, the evenings do get cool in the winter months.

    • South east Queensland is sub tropical, and quite hot in summer. It was 30degrees today, but strong winds have been blowing in the late afternoons, bringing the temperature down a lot. It will be interesting to hear about the San Diego seagulls.

  11. Beautiful Main Beach! We lived there for a few years. Seeing your lovely photos… we miss it!

    • Main Beach is a great place to be. I walked on the beach early this morning and had a surf before it was too hot…..wonderful.

  12. nice pictures. well all birds stand on one legs. i think they’re being cosy, resting, sleeping but they are soo cute.

  13. Wonderful skies Debra. I can’t shed any light on the seagull question though. Lots of memories of holidays on the gold coast though…Still so beautiful.

  14. They seem to have mastered the tree pose perfectly 🙂 Think a lot of water birds do that.

    • They did look funny hopping around on one leg.

  15. Margieinataly is right, I looked it up too; good thingI did because I was ready to say it is because they are practicing their Yoga tree pose for balance. LOL

    • They look amusing whatever the reason.

  16. Hope you survived the weather thumping on the weekend!

    • It was incredible! What about that thunder. We had no damage luckily.

  17. The seagulls could also be resting a leg, too.

    • That’s true. but the hopping is odd.

  18. The sky and cloud photos are lovely! I find great comfort looking at clouds, I’m not sure why 🙂 And I have no idea about the seagulls!

  19. Definitely going for Gull Yoga…
    Beautiful beach photos – love the clouds.

    • That is the best explanation….I love it.

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