Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Handedness" in birds

Left-handedness, left clawedness, left talonedness? The terms don't really roll off the tongue!

Now many birds only use their feet for mobility but I had heard that parrots were prone to being "left-handed".

While watching this swamphen the other day at a reserve called Wurundjeri Walk in Blackburn South I started wondering about other bird groups:

Purple swamphen, Wurundjeri Walk
Porphyrio porphyrio melanotus 

Left foot

Left foot

Ahhh, right foot!
Ron Dudley's blog (Utah, USA) has amazing photos demonstrating his observed Handedness in Short-eared owls.

An old and small study of zoo birds described in this piece "Left handedness in parrots" concludes that to varying degrees parrots are at least 75% left-handed.

A BBC Earth News report details the findings of some Sydney researchers in Parrots preferred left-handedness and includes this observation:

"Young Sulphur-crested cockatoos all end up being left-footed, but when they first come out of the nest they are equally clumsy with both." 
Dr Culum Brown, Macquarie University, Australia

This study goes a little further and researched whether bird-handedness held clues for the development of human handedness.

It appears that some species of birds, parrots in particular do determine a left or right handedness. It just so happens that in many parrots left-handedness is more common than right handedness.

White-cheeked rosella, Platycerus eximius
Wurundjeri Walk, 9th Feb 2012

Crimson Rosella, Platycerus elegans
Wee Jasper, NSW, 5th July 2009
A left-footed Osprey, Pandion haliaetus?
Osprey handedness is also debated - No conclusions I'm afraid!
...or right-footed?
Both birds (or the same bird 30 minutes later) were
photographed at Caloundra, Qld, May 2011

No comments:

Post a Comment