Types of Feet in

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Types of Feet in

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Types of Feet in



or running feet.

e.g., Bustards, Cassowary, Ostrich.

Perching feet.

e.g., sparrows, crows, bulbuls.

Scratching feet.

e.g., fowls, quails,

pheasants, Hen.

Raptorial feet.

e.g., eagles, kites, vultures, owls, etc.

Wading feet.

e.g., Herons,


Swimming feet.

e.g., ducks, pelican, cormorant.

Climbing feet.

e.g., parrots and woodpeckers.

Clinging feet.

e.g., swifts, and humming-birds.



Duck:The duck needs feet thathe can use to paddle alongin the water.Pigeon:The pigeon clings on tobranches, and hopsalong the ground. Woodpecker:The woodpecker clings onto the trunk of trees.Eagle:The eagle needs strong clawsto grasp it's prey.Sparrow:The sparrow perches onsmall branches Heron:The heron spends it timewading (walking) throughwater and mud.


ActivityDescription of the legsDescription of Bird BehaviourGliding BirdsTiny short legs, and delicate feetThese birds spend most of their time hovering or gliding through the air. They feed whilethey're flying and don't land very often. As these feet and legs are so delicate it is not easy for these birds to walk.Perching BirdsFlexible feet with three toes in front, one behindThese birds spend most of their time perched on small branches, so they need feetthat will wrap around the branch and hold on tight.These birds hop along the ground.


Swimming Birds Webbed feetThe toes on webbed feet are linked with skinThis skin turns the feet into paddles andhelps the bird to propel themselves smoothly and quickly through the water.Webbed feet make waking difficult. Birds with webbed feet waddle when then walk.Wading BirdsLong skinny legs, long wide clawsWading birds need to walk through water or mud. They need long, skinny legs tokeep their bodies clear of the water. The birds long toes spreads the bird's weightover a large surface area, which allows it to walk on soft surfaces near the water'sedge where they like to eat.


Hunting BirdsLarge hooklike claws (talons)The widely spaced, grasping four toes of hunting birds are ideal for hunting other birds, small mammals and fish. The strong claws (or talons) allow them to grasp and hold onto struggling prey.Walking and Scratching BirdsShort legs with blunt clawsScratching birds have four toes with strong nails used to dig into dirt to find insects.


Climbing BirdsTwo toes in front, two behind, with sharp clawsClimbing birds have two toes facing forward and two toes facing backward. This allows the bird to climb trees to find insects, its food source.Running BirdsLong muscular legs, andstrong feet with three toes facing forward.Some birds rely on their ability to run since they are flightless birds. These kinds of birdsusually have three toes facing forward with sharp talons used for defense and for digging.They also have strong legs, allowing them to run fast.


Bird FeathersThe most unique feature of all birds is its feathers, none are without them and no other animal shares them.  The Function of FeathersFeathers serve several different functions other than the most obvious one of flight. They serve as protection from both heat and cold. In cold weather the feathers are fluffed up to trap a layer of insulating air between the body and the feathers which acts in the same way as animals fur or a modern ski jacket. In warm or hot weather these insulating pockets of trapped air are removed by flattening the feathers against the body.


Parts of a feather:

1. Vane2. Rachis3. Barb4. Afterfeather5. Hollow shaft, calamus


Feather UsesFeathers are adapted for different roles:• flight• thermoregulation (keeping warm and cool)• protection from impact• defense (both physical and visual)• incubation of eggs• brooding of young• display (both visual and aural)• camouflage• hunting by touch• carrying water (in some cases)


There are six/ seven commonly specified types of feathers: Vaned or Contour:These form the outer coverings of a bird's body. Humans have used wing feathers, primary feathers as writing implements so in some ways birds are partly responsible for the works of Shakespeare!



feathers used in





large wing feathers

i. primaries are attached to the bones of the “hand”



are attached to the bones of the “forearm”

iii. tertiaries are attached to the


or upper arm bone





large tail feathers

(Not all long feathers off the rear of a bird are


. The huge, beautiful tail feathers of the peacock or cockerel are not tail feathers. They are contour feathers that have grown out of proportion to the bird and are only for display.)


Down:This is a layer of loosely structured feathers lying beneath the contour feathers which can be used to regulate the heat of a bird, fluffed up they trap a layer of air and insulate the bird from the cold, flattened they expel this insulating air and help to cool the bird. Down feathers have been used for centuries to keep us humans warm but birds have been using it for a lot longer than that!Powder Down: A type of down feather that grows continuously and is never moulted. The barbs at the tips of these feathers constantly disintegrate into a fine, talc-like, water-resistant powder.Eyelashes: feathers similar to human eyelashes.


Semiplume:These are similar to down feathers but have more pronounced shafts and a little more structure but serve a similar function to down also helping aquatic birds with buoyancy.Filoplume:These feathers occur between contour feathers and down feathers and are small hair-like feathers with a few barbs at the tip of the shaft. Although their function is not fully understood some experts believe that they act like feelers serving to help the bird optimise the position of its contour feathers in flight. In this way they would be analogous to sensors indicating the position of flight feathers. For this to be true however they would need to be present in all birds that fly and this is apparently not the case. Others believe they are just a kind of failed contour feather.Bristle:These appear as small vaneless contour feathers with only a few barbs at the base on a small, stiff rachis. They tend to occur around the eyes, nostrils, and around the mouths of flying insect-catching birds, and are referred to as rictal bristles.






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