Left or Right-Footed?

Feral pigeon walking (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

27 April 2023

On Throw Back Thursday an old topic but a good one …

Humans have a trait called handedness in which we show a preference for using one hand over the other.  Interestingly, dominance in the left hemisphere of our brains results in right-handedness and vice versa. About 90% of us are right-handed.

This hemispheric dominance is called functional lateralism and birds have it too. They show it by the foot they use, the eye they look out of, or the crossing of their bills.

Red crossbills, two males, Deschutes National Forest in Oregon (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Pigeons show it with their feet. If we could watch closely enough we’d notice that a pigeon leads with one foot when it lands, choosing to land first on its dominant foot. Find out more in this 2016 article:

(photo from Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original)

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