Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ornicopia 4 -- Can any birds walk easily on snow?

478.  Can any birds walk easily on snow?

When autumn comes, ptarmigan and some other species of grouse grow appendages on their toes which act as snowshoes in winter.

White-tailed Ptarmigan

477.  Are there any birds that cannot walk? 

A common loon really cannot walk.  It progresses on land chiefly by pushing itself along with its breast on the ground.  Grebes walk poorly.  The small weak feet of swifts and hummingbirds make walking very difficult or impossible, but even those birds can push themselves across a level surface.

Great Northern Loon nesting in Maine

Diving Grebe

479. Are the feet of any birds feathered?

While the tarsus and toes of a bird are usually covered with scales, some birds are feathered on the tarsus and a few species even have feathered toes.  Many owls are feathered to the claws.  Ptarmigan have feathered feet.  Some hawks, particularly the rough-legged hawk, and some eagles, particularly the golden eagle, have a feathered tarsus.

Long-eared owl

Rough-legged Hawk

 Golden Eagle

Spotted Owl yawning

Text from:  1001 Questions Answered About Birds by Allan D. Cruickshank and Helen G. Cruickshank (Toronto, General Publishing Company, 1958)

No comments:

Post a Comment