About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Birds tend to be left-handed

Why we are right or left handed seems like a simple question, but it’s still a mystery why most humans (70% to 95%) are right-handed. The most common answer is that handedness is determined by the structure of our brains, which are divided into two hemispheres. Nearly all righties process language in the left side of the brain, while many lefties process language on the right. What about birds?

Studies done on parrots that use their feet to pick up food have found that over 70% of the birds favor using their left foot. Several different types of parrots participated in tests designed to study their cerebral lateralization, meaning how strongly each bird processes information using either hemisphere of the brain.

One test had the birds pick seeds out of a background of similar sized pebbles. Another more difficult test had the birds use their feet to remove a treat from a dangling string. Three-quarters of the birds showed a definite left-footed tendency.

What about the birds in our backyards? Do you notice more birds holding a seed down with their left foot to crack it open? How about left-wingedness? Watch the soaring birds above. Have you noticed their preference to fly in counter-clockwise circles? 

Sources:

- Cerebral lateralization determines hand preferences in Australian parrots: http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/7/4/496

Related articles:
Can All Birds Learn to Talk Like Humans? http://bit.ly/s0rflH
Do Birds Have Thumbs? http://bit.ly/tFuQYn
How birds chew food without teeth http://goo.gl/5SbuV
Has a bird ever "flipped you the bird": A recent study reveals ravens have their own specific gestures http://goo.gl/r0GWk

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