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Foot preferences during resting in wildfowl and waders

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Footedness in birds has been reported, e.g., in parrots and chickens, but the direction of footedness remained unclear. Is a bird left-footed because it uses its left foot for holding and handling food, or is it right-footed because it uses the right foot for stabilisation and balancing while perching? In 2004 and 2006 I examined footedness in wildfowl and waders while the birds were performing a single task: roosting on the ground on one foot. Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta), northern shoveller (Anas clypeata), oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus), and Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata) were right-footed. Another 21 species did not show any significant foot preferences. This study provides some evidence that asymmetries in preferential foot use in birds may be triggered by a preference during postural control.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Leipzig, Germany

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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