Ornithology 101: Bird locomotion - boing vs. waddle
May 28, 2015 10:24 PM   Subscribe

As I sat outside enjoying the evening, I watched a small bird (a sparrow, I think?) looking for worms or seeds in the veggie patch. For some reason (maybe the wine, I dunno) the question crossed my mind: why do some birds hop (like the sparrow) and some walk/waddle (a duck, for example).

Does it have to do with size? Are there any other land animals from the same family that move really differently from one another? Thanks for indulging my weird question.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are there any other land animals from the same family that move really differently from one another?

Hoppers like rabbits and kangaroos move very differently from their walking/running relatives.
posted by flabdablet at 10:56 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thanks, flabdablet, I guess I should clarify the second part of my question. What I mean is, animals from the same family, such as leopards and domestic cats and not between, say, rabbits and dogs.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 11:46 PM on May 28, 2015


I think you'll find that sparrows and ducks are at least as distantly related as rabbits and rats.
posted by flabdablet at 12:18 AM on May 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Waddlers all swim, boingers don't (at least as far as the examples I can think of). So waddling has something to do with the way the legs/feet are arranged for paddling I'm guessing.
posted by Halo in reverse at 1:03 AM on May 29, 2015


According to the RSPB light birds hop and heavy birds tend to run as its the most efficient use of energy for both. Also birds that spend the majority of time in trees are adapted to hopping from branch to branch whereas birds that live on the ground tend to run as its smoother and faster (to escape predators).
posted by Ness at 1:17 AM on May 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


Waddlers all swim

How about chickens and pigeons?
posted by amtho at 4:07 AM on May 29, 2015


Mammals are a class, as avians are, so "bats vs. bunnies vs. giraffes vs rats vs. people" is about as valid a comparison as "ostriches vs sparrows vs penguins vs geese." Marsupials have "sugar glider vs kangaroo vs koala" which is also a pretty wide variation in preferred movement style.
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:25 AM on May 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Just to make things more complicated, in the bird kingdom you also have parrots, with two toes forward and two toes back on each foot, who walk and climb without regard for which way is up.
posted by Devoidoid at 6:23 AM on May 29, 2015


To elucidate my earlier reply, who waddles more than penguins? As I suggested above, it has something to do with facilitating swimming, and this clip here is where I recently learned about it.

[Chickens don't waddle. Neither do pigeons. They strut.]
posted by Halo in reverse at 1:33 AM on May 30, 2015


Surprised not to see this here! https://vimeo.com/79098420 is a video of some research on, basically, genetic algorithms for bipedal creatures of arbitrary sizes and shapes. The important takeaway is that, below a certain size, it seems that hopping is the most efficient and effective method of locomotion. Also, it is a delightful video overall.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:54 PM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


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