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Thread subject: Are Ospreys Right Footed?
Name Date Message
Marie 08/02/04 11:44 pm Yes I know ospreys have two feet, but what I am trying to say here is... I think they use their Rt foot more when it comes to food delivery and securing it in their talons in order to eat. I have watched closely the two tug-of-war clips of our chicks receiving the fish that Dennis brought in for them. In both cases he seems to arrive with it in his RT foot . After watching the male osprey bring in a fish to his family this afternoon in Victoria I noticed that the male in this case used his Rt foot to carry in the fish. The female took it from him and I could see her with the fish in her Rt foot too. Interesting to say the least. Cathy it is now your turn to watch for this activity and confirm what you see. Also any others, Mickey, Celeste and Cecile perhaps who brave those darn biting bugs at the Long Island osprey nest site when they go out to see ospreys. The question is do...
"Ospreys use their Right foot more than the left when it comes to hanging onto food?"
Shelley 08/03/04 09:16 am Since you asked, I am reminded that back in December, I posted the following on my Animal Life board. I thought that you might be interested in reading it, even though it refers more to animals in general and not specifically to birds:


"I thought I'd share this with you. I recently read a cool article, written by Gillian Girodat, in the November issue of *WILD*, the magazine for kids, published by the Canadian Wildlife Federation. It was all about handedness in the animal kingdom. As expected, most studies are not conclusive, either about handedness in humans (the *why* of it) or in any other species. But apparently, some animals seem to favour one side or the other. One of the theories mentioned was that, in primates, for example, the more primitive, less *evolved*, the primate, the more likely it is to be left-handed. (Hmmm, I'm not sure I like that theory!!!) Lemurs, for instance,showed a tendency to be left-handed while gorillas and chimps were seen to favour the right, especially in specific tasks such as fishing for termites, where they use a twig or plant stem as a tool.

It was also reported that 100% of the endangered glossy black cockatoos on Australia's Kangaroo Island, are all lefties, using their left feet to grasp and hold their food.

And --get this! -- you can even tell if your local squirrels are lefties or righties by examining the leftover pine cone stubs they leave in huge messes at the base of your trees (or MY trees!!!!) Apparently, the little rodent eats the cones blunt end up, scales pointing down. A cone with the stubs shorter on the left side, was demolished by a lefty. Whichever side has the shorter stubs is the side where he started chewing! (as if I care. I just wish he'd clean up!! )

Here's another interesting little sidebar. The article mentions that favouring the right side may go back as far as 500 million years!! Scientists say that in examining fossils of trilobites -- distant relatives of today's horseshoe crabs -- they found more scars on the right side of the exoskeleton than on the left. They explained this by saying that something --either the trilobite or its predator -- veered to one particular side over and over again.

Being the only lefty in my family for as far back as I can trace, I have always been interested in handedness. In my case, at least, genetics doesn't seem to have played a role. I often wondered about handedness in animals and if it's a learned habit (as in, when we *hand* our pets a treat) or if there is something in their genetics or hard-wiring, that causes this. With animal evolution, I always thought, though, that nothing happens without a reason. Survival of the fittest, and all. Wonder if we'll ever really know....

This article cited many, many more examples than I mentioned here and revealed some really funny and fascinating facts. This is a terrific magazine, by the way.Great articles, amazing photos. Their goal (stated at the beginning of every issue) is to "reveal the wonders of wildlife in Canada and lands beyond to young readers". They want to" inspire an appreciation of creatures great and small, of places near and far, and an understanding of the importance everyone plays in a healthy future." And lastly, they "hope to build a strong force of conservationists ready, willing and able to make a difference for wildlife, the environment and the world."

I applaud them!


One of my friends there asked the following question, after reading that post and I have to admit, I hadn't thought of that aspect of it:

"quote: It was also reported that 100% of the endangered glossy black cockatoos on Australia's Kangaroo Island, are all lefties, using their left feet to grasp and hold their food."

Her question: Yes, but they're grasping the branch with their right. Which hand is more important, the one that keeps you from falling, or the one that puts food in your mouth?


It's a good question! Any thoughts, here?

Marie 08/03/04 10:14 am Hey, Shelley, that was fascinating reading. Thank you for posting that. So now I must watch the eagles and see which foot they tend to use.
Celeste 08/03/04 11:36 am As a "left-handed" person myself......did you know Shelley, that some of the great minds of our time were left-handed? For ex: Leonardo Da Vinci for one?
Shelley 08/03/04 11:51 am Heehee, oh yes, I have a whole book of famous lefties. And of course, everyone knows the famous saying: if the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, then only left-handed people are in their right minds!

;-) (but we won't go there....)
cathy 08/03/04 06:16 pm I notice the chick in the nest moving around stuff by grasping it in her right foot talons. While eating, the fish is held in the right talons. I am left-handed too and wouldn't know how to hold a fish and tear it up with my "beak".
Shelley 08/03/04 07:05 pm ROFL!!!! Ok, calling all posters here for a very unscientific survey: who are the lefties among us? (I wonder if this has any bearing on how we perceive and observe.....)

Shelley -- leftie
Cathy -- leftie
Celeste -- leftie

Cecilia 08/03/04 07:37 pm Rightie :-)

And, least you think that talking about which foot a bird uses is not scientific...I remember a couple of years ago that some magazine ( I think it was "Birdtalk") was doing a survey of their subscriber's bird's foot preferences for some University. :-)
Cecilia 08/03/04 07:39 pm I meant to type, "lest you think".... above :-)
Shelley 08/03/04 08:03 pm I meant that it is unscientific in the sense that it is the observers who I'm surveying, not the birds, ;-)

You know, a left brain/right brain thing...just for fun. I wouldn't know how to interpret the data collected if it landed on my head and laid an egg! LOL
Marie 08/04/04 02:35 am Rightie...... ;-))
Marie 08/04/04 02:40 am Hey where are the SCIENTISTS in this question? I did expect some of the boys out there to share their opinion on this thought provoking question...
;-) come on you males out there...what is your opinion on right foot v left in the world of ospreys.
Marie 08/04/04 11:49 pm well it is an interesting debate for I saw the male osprey this evening in Victoria standing on his right foot and hold up his left foot. He was quietly observing his family while on a snag. How about you Dave S ...what is your theory on this question?
Tiger doesn't seem to have an opinion on this question... ;-((
Tiger 08/05/04 04:09 pm Oh Marie I was just thinking that coming from N I as I do originally this could take on a whole new connation! Mind you I am fairly certain that ospreys are not religious!

I guess I have not studied it enough to have an opinion!

Shelley 08/05/04 05:22 pm But Tiger, you haven't answered my (unscientific and highly trivial) survey question: are you a right-pawed or a left-pawed Tiger?
Marie 08/05/04 05:40 pm I haven't studied this question either. All I wanted was a candid opinion, a sense of what it might mean. A statement that comes from the intuative part of your being. Surely a scientist has an intuative part to his soul??? BTW...I am not writing a scientific paper you know... ;-))
Tiger 08/05/04 06:14 pm In the article I have been talking about above there are two magnificent osprey pictures in which the bird is carrying a fish. In both cases it is on the right paw.

I notice that the right leg seems actually looks stronger than the left. Is that because of all the heavy load carrying?

As for myself. I am a bit of both. I use my right hand for most things but when it comes to playing bat games I am a natural leftie!

Dave S 08/05/04 06:53 pm Is it possible that the bird stands on the leg that is on the lower part of the perch? Birds seem to be very much creatures of habit and will perch in the same spot frequently. I really have no idea other than that!
Marie 08/05/04 09:12 pm Ah at last. Thank you Tiger and Dave. I really appreciate your logic. I really like your idea of the area being lower that the bird stands on and using the leg closest to that incline. Now to test your idea Dave. This is what makes it all exciting. The male osprey that I visit sits in two spots. One, a snag closer to the nest and relatively close to the road where I stand. The other is a perch way up high in a fir tree. I can't tell from where I stand. He has a magnificent view of the Victoria scenery. Dave, I will share this with you, I think I saw Dennis bring in a fish in the left talon either yesterday or the day before. Blows my whole theory out the window....LOL

Copyright © 2004 DPOF

Tom Throwe
Last modified: Fri Dec 31 23:49:43 EST 2004