Thesis topic #2308 - Peckers vs Scratchers

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Thesis topic #2308 - Peckers vs Scratchers
From: Laurie Knight <>
Date: Wed, 15 May 2013 22:07:32 +1000
I came across a foraging Buff-banded Rail as I was passing through the Roma St Parklands yesterday. Whereas a Junglefowl, Scrubfowl, Turkey or Logrunner would be busily scratching away in the leaf litter, the BBR was using its bill to fossick for food in a flower bed.

This got me thinking about the nature of ground-feeding species that forage with their feet vs species that forage exclusively with their bills.

I suspect there are few examples of shorebirds that use their feet to uncover food (I've seen a gull paddling its feet on the water's edge but that's pretty much an exception). In contrast, a number of dryland birds are very dependent on their feet to uncover food. The thing about the BBR was that it was foraging with its bill in a medium that other species would use their feet to clear.

So what is it that sets the programming for ground-feeding behaviour? Some shorebird species would seem to have feet that could be used for foraging ...

Regards, Laurie.

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