Employment of web-based images and a live web cam in the examination of lateral neck-resting preferences in the American Flamingo (<em>Phoenicopterus ruber</em>)

Main Article Content

Matthew J. Anderson
Jennifer L. Urbine
Crosby Wilson
Lorraine Callabro


American Flamingo, archival research, images, laterality, Phoenicopterus ruber, resting, web cam


When flamingos rest they typically lay their heads on their backs. This forces the birds to curve their neck to either the right or left of their center of gravity. Previous research revealed that American Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) on exhibit at the Philadelphia Zoo (Philadelphia, PA, USA) demonstrate a significant population-level preference for resting their necks to the right. In the present report efforts were made to replicate this finding in other flamingo populations, as well as evaluate the potential utility of several novel methodologies in behavioral studies. Study 1 employed an archival web-based image search technique, and yielded a slight, but non-significant, preference for resting the neck to the right for all flamingo species. Study 2 utilized a live web cam at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park (Washington, DC, USA) to more systematically observe a single flock of American Flamingos, and successfully demonstrated a significant preference for right neck-resting. The results of these two studies suggest that this preference is generalizable to other populations of American Flamingo, and perhaps may be present in other flamingo species as well. Advantages and disadvantages of the two employed techniques are discussed.

Abstract 454 | PDF Downloads 439


ALTMANN, J. 1974. Observational study of behaviour: sampling methods. Behaviour 49:227–63.

AMUNTS, K., G. SCHLAUG, A. SCHLEICHER, H. STEINMETZ, A. DABRINGHAUS, P. E. ROLAND, AND K. ZILLES. 1996. Asymmetry in the human motor cortex and handedness. NeuroImage 4: 216–222.

ANDERSON, M. J., S. A. WILLIAMS, AND A. J. BONO. 2010. Preferred neck resting position predicts aggression in Caribbean flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber). Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition 15:629–638.

ANDERSON, M. J., S. A. WILLIAMS, AND E. H. O’BRIEN. 2009. Individual differences in preferred neck resting position of Caribbean flam-ingos (Phoenicopterus ruber). Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition 14:66–78.
AUSTIN, N. P., AND L. J. ROGERS. 2007. Asymmetry of flight and escape turning responses in horses. Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition 15:464–474.

BILDSTEIN, K. L., P. C. FREDERICK, AND M. G. SPALDING. 1991. Feeding patterns and aggressive behavior in juvenile and adult American Flamingos. Condor 93:916–925.

BISAZZA, A., C. CANTALUPO, M. CAPOCCHIANO, AND G. VALLORTIGARA. 2000. Population lateralization and social behaviour: a study with 16 species of fish. Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition 5:269–284.

BRYDEN, M. P., E. A. ROY, I. C. MCMANUS, AND M. B. BULMAN-FLEMING. 1997. On the genetics and measurement of human handedness. Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition 2:317–336.

CASEY, M. B., AND C. M. MARTINO. 2000. Asymmetrical hatching behaviors influence the development of postnatal laterality in domestic chicks (Gallus gallus). Developmental Psychobiology 37:13–24.

CASPERD, L. M., AND R. I. M. DUNBAR. 1996. Asymmetries in the visual processing of emotional cues during agonistic interactions by gelada baboons. Behavioural Processes 37:57–65.

CORBALLIS, M. C. 1989. Laterality and human evolution. Psychological Review 96:492–505.

CORBALLIS, M. C. 1993. The lopsided ape: evolution of the generative mind. Oxford University Press, New York.

CORBALLIS, M. C. 1997. The genetics and evolution of handedness. Psychological Review 104:714–727.

DHARMARETNAM, M., AND R. J. ANDREW. 1994. Age- and stimulus-specific use of right and left eyes by the domestic chick. Animal Behaviour 48:1395–1406.

EVANS, C. S., L. EVANS, AND P. MARLER. 1993. On the meaning of alarm calls: functional reference in an avian vocal system. Animal Behavior 46: 23–38.

GÜNTÜRKÜN, O. 2005. How asymmetry in animals starts. European Review 13:105–118.

HALPERN, M. E., O. GÜNTÜRKÜN, W. D. HOPKINS, AND L. J. ROGERS. 2005. Lateralization of the vertebrate brain: taking the side of model systems. The Journal of Neuroscience 25:10351–10357.

JOHNSON, A., AND F. CÉZILLY. 2007. The Greater Flamingo. T. & A. D. Poyser, London.

KEAR, J., AND N. DUPLAIX-HALL (eds). 1975. Flamingos. T. & A. D. Poyser, Berkhamsted, UK.

LACREUSE, A., L. A. PARR, H. M. SMITH, AND W. D. HOPKINS. 1999. Hand preferences for a haptic task in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). International Journal of Primatology 20:867–881.

LONSDORF, E. V., AND W. D. HOPKINS. 2005. Wild chimpanzees show population-level handedness for tool use. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 102:12634–12638.

MARTIN, F., AND C. NIEMITZ. 2003. ‘Right-trun-kers’ and ‘left-trunkers’: side preferences of trunk movements in wild Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). Journal of Comparative Psychology 117:371–379.

OGILVIE, M. A., AND C. OGILVIE. 1986. Flamingos. Alan Sutton Publishing Limited, Gloucester, UK.

RASMUSSEN, T., AND B. MILNER. 1977. The role of early left-brain injury in determining lateralization of cerebral speech function. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 299:355–369.

ROGERS, L. J. 1990. Light input and reversal of functional lateralization in the chicken brain. Behavioural Brain Research 38:211–221.

ROGERS, L. J. 2000. Evolution of hemispheric specialization: Advantages and disadvantages. Brain and Language 73:236–253.

ROGERS, L. J., AND L. WORKMAN. 1989. Light exposure during incubation affects competitive behaviour in domestic chicks. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 23:187–198.

ROGERS, L. J., P. ZUCCA, AND G. VALLORTIGARA. 2004. Advantages of having a lateralized brain. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B (Supplement): Biology Letters 271:420–422.

SKIBA, M., B. DIEKAMP, AND O. GÜNTÜRKÜN. 2002. Embryonic light stimulation induces different asymmetries in visuoperceptual and visuomotor pathways of pigeons. Behavioural Brain Research 134:149–156.

VALLORTIGARA, G., AND L. J. ROGERS. 2005. Survival with an asymmetrical brain: advantages and disadvantages of cerebral lateralization. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28:575–633.

WESTERGAARD, G. C., M. CHAPOUX, AND S. J. SUOMI. 1997. Hand preference in infant rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Child Development 68:387–393.

WESTERGAARD, G. C., T. J. CHAVANNE, I. D. LUSSIER, L. HOUSER, A. CLEVELAND, S. J. SOUMI, AND J. D. HIGLEY. 2003. Left-handedness is correlated with CSF monoamine metabolite and plasma cortisol concentrations, and with impaired sociality, in free-ranging adult male rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition 8:169–187.

WESERGAARD, G. C., AND I. D. LUSSIER. 1999. Left-handedness and longevity in primates. International Journal of Neuroscience 99:79–87.