Sunday, January 29, 2012

Right-footed Pigeons

The pigeon, also called rock dove or rock pigeon, Columba livia
They paddle with staccato feet 
In powder-pools of sunlight...
                                                              from Pigeons by Richard Kell

In the 1950s a scientist named Harvey Fisher was using pigeons to study landing forces. He noticed that the birds did not always land on both feet simultaneously. Sometimes they extended one foot or the other to absorb the force of the landing. This inspired Fisher to watch his flock of 11 experimental pigeons land 7,259 times.

He found that seven of them were right-footed, three so strongly so that they landed on the right foot over 90% of the time. Three of the birds were left-footed. One bird had no preference -- it was apparently ambipedal.

He published his observations in 1957 in  the ornithological journal, The Wilson Bulletin. You can read the original paper by clicking here.

I'm keeping a landing log of a few distinctive pigeons in my neighborhood. I'll let you know.

Hmmmm....which foot to use, which foot to use...

1 comment:

  1. Wow- fascinating. Not a question I'd ever considered. My son is a left footed soccer player, despite being right-handed. Wonder if there is any manifestation of right- or left-wingedness! Bizarre idea. I just posted an urban wildlife Valentine of NYC pigeons getting romantic on my air conditioner. You might enjoy it: (hope the link works - if not, my YOUtube channel is OutWalkingtheDogNYC.) Cheers.