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Many times we see animal behavior that seems impossible to explain. A small wading bird called the red-necked phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) spends its summers in the Arctic regions and winters in tropical oceans. These birds have a curious way of stirring up a meal when the food is too deep in the water for them to reach.
The phalarope swims in a small, tight circle faster and faster to form a whirlpool. The spinning vortex will bring up food from the bottom of shallow waters in the way a tornado can lift objects from the ground. When the whirlpool brings some insects or crustaceans to the surface, the phalarope reaches its bill into the vortex and plucks them out. Sometimes the bird saves energy by finding a spot where converging currents or tidal action bring food to the surface.
Using high-speed photography, researchers found that the phalarope creates a vortex that is over three feet deep. The vortex acts as a miniature tornado bringing food up to where the bird can reach it. You could understand how one bird might learn this skill, but it seems to be genetically implanted since baby birds do the spinning even when they have had no contact with adult birds.
Another strange thing about these birds is that the females display brighter colors than the males, and they go after and even fight over males. The males are left to incubate the eggs and raise the chicks while the females may even head south for the winter. There is a never-ending variety of fascinating creatures in this world. We think the design, balance, and variety we see in nature testifies to the genius and creativity of God.
We see in phalaropes, as in most animals, that God has given them a genetically-based technique for acquiring food so they can survive.
© phototrip. Image from Big Stock.com