(Was Major Mitchell's Melon) - Food item grasping & scratching preferenc

To: Geoffrey Dabb <>
Subject: (Was Major Mitchell's Melon) - Food item grasping & scratching preferences
From: Beth Mantle <>
Date: Thu, 02 Sep 2010 17:33:12 +1000
Geoffrey's email reminded me of an observation a couple of weeks ago:

Firstly, an Australian Raven was tucking into a large, discarded bread roll/pastry-looking-thing on Clunies Ross Street.  As I approached, the raven started to carry the obviously heavy item away from me, head and neck drooping from the load.  It then took off and, just as I was wondering how it would carry the pastry-thing and fly, it deftly passed the food from beak to feet in mid-air, and flew away.  I just thought it looked very cool.

And secondly, what determines whether a bird is an "under-wing" scratcher (uses feet to scratch body part from underneath the wings) or an "over-wing" scratcher (drops the wings and pokes the legs behind the shoulder in order to scratch said body part)?  Is this individual preference, does it vary inter-specifically, is it a passerine v. non-passerine difference, or random?


On 02/09/2010, at 10:36 AM, Geoffrey Dabb wrote:

As evident from the below, this is another cocky that some might regard as left-footed.  My own view is that right-footed birds hold the food in the left foot because it is less serious dropping the food than falling out of the tree.  That leaves the question:  which foot holds the food while the bird flies into the tree?  Answer:  neither (in the bill).  

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