A cedar waxwing, gracefully perched, at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York.
Our theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge this week is: Graceful.
Our instructions: Whether it’s a person, a building, or an abstract shape, show us something that exists harmoniously with its surroundings.
It takes a lot of grace and balance to land on a tree branch. But it also takes biology.
Bird talons work through a pulley system of tendons. A bird’s foot closes and grasps automatically as the ankle and knee joints are bent, and the grasp cannot be released until the limb is straightened again. So, instead of expending precious energy holding the muscles tight, as you would if you were hanging onto a branch with your hands, the system simply physically locks in place.1
This isn’t just graceful . . . it’s Darwinian genius.
Also, I need talons.
1Madrigal, Alexis. “Why Birds Can Sleep on Branches and Not Fall Off.” The Atlantic.