Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, 193:1177

First online:

Head-bobbing of walking birds

  • Reinhold NeckerAffiliated withLehrstuhl für Tierphysiologie, Ruhr-Universität Bochum Email author 

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Many birds show a rhythmic forward and backward movement of their heads when they walk on the ground. This so-called “head-bobbing” is characterized by a rapid forward movement (thrust phase) which is followed by a phase where the head keeps its position with regard to the environment but moves backward with regard to the body (hold phase). These head movements are synchronized with the leg movements. The functional interpretations of head-bobbing are reviewed. Furthermore, it is discussed why some birds do bob their head and others do not.


Optokinetic response Vision Depth perception Balance Head-bobbing species