Are birds left or right handed?

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Perry Wright

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Are birds left or right handed?
« on: 18/05/2008 15:30:10 »
Perry Wright  asked the Naked Scientists:

We love your show.  The whole family is listening to the Pod Cast.  Never a dull show.
My question is: Are birds left winged and right winged like people are left and right handed?  I've been watching Red Tailed Hawks, Bald Eagles, and Turkey Vultures because they fly in circles but still can't draw a conclusion.
Perry Wright
Howell, Michigan, USA

What do you think?


Offline Evie

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Are birds left or right handed?
« Reply #1 on: 07/08/2008 20:57:34 »
This is a very interesting question! There have been a lot of studies on animal handedness, and the observations generally conclude that, yes, animals often preferentially use one hand/foot/paw, etc. for activities. I have seen some studies on birds, but usually they are looking at what foot they use for gripping, building nests, etc. I haven't seen anything studying a preference circling direction. Here's a BBC article about handedness in walruses:

The study I saw about bird "footedness" suggested that more of them prefer their right foot, just as more humans are right-handed than left. The reasons for this are greatly debated.
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
Act I, scene 5