Why do pigeons bob their heads when they walk?

Graham Madge was just bobbing along, singing a song, when we grabbed him in for the answer

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Why do pigeons bob their heads when they walk?

With the appearance of a Victorian, mechanical toy, the head-bobbing walk of pigeons has prompted many theories over centuries. Many authors have believed that, like a crank, there must be a physical connection between the bird’s head and feet. But perhaps the truth is stranger than folktales, as the bird is believed to use head-bobbing to boost its eyesight, particularly as an aid to judging distances.

Birds with sideways-looking eyes don’t have the benefit of stereo vision, so looking at the world from a single point of view seems very flat. But by bobbing their heads to-and-fro the birds are able to compensate for monocular vision by observing the world from slightly different positions, helping with depth perception. This will boost the attribute necessary for survival: finding food and avoiding predators.

Grahame Madge, spokesman, RSPB

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  • Arron

    the boiling point of water at 0 degrees and the freezing point of ice at 100 degrees you got it mixed up

  • http://www.howitworksdaily.com Jonny O’Callaghan

    Oops. Been changed Arron, thanks for the heads up.

  • David

    It has not been changed in the on-line article, which still says ‘Anders Celsius pegged his scale with the boiling point of water at 100 degrees and the freezing point of ice at 0 degrees’.

  • http://www.howitworksdaily.com Jonny O’Callaghan

    Sorry David, I don’t quite understand? I switched them around so that boiling water was 100 degrees and freezing point was 0 degrees, which is correct. I’ve changed the word ‘ice’ to ‘water’, though.