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two toes or three

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Old Monday 1st March 2010, 04:51   #1
longbow
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two toes or three

I've been wearing out the gallery section as well as looking at lots of books and cannot get my head around the seeming fact that some birds have three toes in front, one back, while others have two front, two back.

Anybody take pity on me and explain this?

Ta.

And, as an afterthought, is there a thread hereabouts that explains avian taxonomy in a way that a simple minded old coot can understand?
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Old Monday 1st March 2010, 05:06   #2
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I can't answer the toe question simply. I think that generally birds that cling (to tree trunks etc) are more likely to have two hind toes to help them hold on. I was just reading about some raptor which can move one of its toes from forward to side (almost back?) to get a better grasp on prey. This part of bf's opus is just being developed and may help you with some ideas and terms related to birds' anatomy, though it doesn't quite answer your question.

Someone else will know about taxonomy (which still rather baffles me).
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Old Monday 1st March 2010, 05:59   #3
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[quote=longbow;1747149]I've been wearing out the gallery section as well as looking at lots of books and cannot get my head around the seeming fact that some birds have three toes in front, one back, while others have two front, two back.QUOTE]

Check this out for a start: http://people.eku.edu/ritchisong/birdfeet.html
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Old Monday 1st March 2010, 06:05   #4
longbow
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Hey Gretchen, thanks very much. That page you linked is brilliant. Much better than the similar stuff in my books.
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Old Monday 1st March 2010, 06:07   #5
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fugl, I was writing Gretchen while you were posting. Thank you! That page nails (couldn't help it) it!
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Old Monday 1st March 2010, 09:13   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gretchen View Post
I can't answer the toe question simply. I think that generally birds that cling (to tree trunks etc) are more likely to have two hind toes to help them hold on. I was just reading about some raptor which can move one of its toes from forward to side (almost back?) to get a better grasp on prey. This part of bf's opus is just being developed and may help you with some ideas and terms related to birds' anatomy, though it doesn't quite answer your question.

Someone else will know about taxonomy (which still rather baffles me).
Thanks for providing the link to the Topography page Gretchen.

As you say, the article is not finished, as yet. If anyone has any good ideas or can add anything to it they'd be most welcome.

There's also the Dictionary which explains a lot of the terminology used in our world.

Like Gretchen, taxonomy baffles me too... I just about understand that there are subspecies

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Old Tuesday 2nd March 2010, 22:17   #7
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Originally Posted by longbow View Post
I've been wearing out the gallery section as well as looking at lots of books and cannot get my head around the seeming fact that some birds have three toes in front, one back, while others have two front, two back.

Anybody take pity on me and explain this?

Ta.

And, as an afterthought, is there a thread hereabouts that explains avian taxonomy in a way that a simple minded old coot can understand?
Hi longbow

The Topography article has been updated and there's now an explanation about the toes.

I had no idea there was so much to it.

D
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Old Wednesday 3rd March 2010, 03:51   #8
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Cheers, Delia.
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Old Tuesday 24th August 2010, 11:51   #9
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I really love the technical drawings of the feet at the end of the post - will have to keep an eye out for these variations next time I'm out. I guess the most likely ones for birds in London will be Totipalmate, Anisodactyl, and Zygodactyl.

Great stuff!
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Old Tuesday 24th August 2010, 12:47   #10
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Birds with three toes in front, one in back are birds that perch, such as Warblers and Vireos. Birds with two in the front, two in the back are birds that climb, such as woodpeckers and nuthatches.

Don't feel bad about asking; it wasn't until about two years ago I learned this, and I am a young birder as well.
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Old Friday 8th October 2010, 15:24   #11
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Yea great link! I often wondered about this but now I am definitely going to be keeping my eye out when it comes to the toes. I will be in Australia in a month and hoping to do some serious bird watching while I am there. I will let you know what I see and how many toes it has!
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Old Friday 8th October 2010, 15:32   #12
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Birds with two in the front, two in the back are birds that climb, such as woodpeckers and nuthatches.
Scansorial, yes, but nuthatches are anisodactyl, not zygodactyl. Scroll down to the picture of the ringed bird here... http://www.hiltonpond.org/ThisWeek071115.html

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Old Saturday 9th October 2010, 05:27   #13
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Birds with three toes in front, one in back are birds that perch, such as Warblers and Vireos. Birds with two in the front, two in the back are birds that climb, such as woodpeckers and nuthatches.
And many of the Asian woodpeckers have only three toes.
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