Head-bobbing behavior in walking whooping cranes (Grus americana) and sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis)

Journal of Ornithology
By: , and 

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Abstract

Head-bobbing is a common and characteristic behavior of walking birds. While the activity could have a relatively minor biomechanical function, for balance and stabilization of gait, head-bobbing is thought to be primarily a visual behavior in which fixation of gaze alternates with a forward movement that generates visual flow. We studied head-bobbing in locomoting whooping cranes (Grus americana) and sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis), using food strewn on the ground to motivate them to walk or run. When the cranes walked, head-bobbing proceeded in a four-step sequence that was closely linked to the stepping cycle. The time available for gaze stabilization decreased with travel speed, and running cranes did not head-bob at all. As a crane extended its bill towards the ground for food, it also exhibited a series of short head-bobs that were not associated with forward travel. Head-bobbing is a flexible behavior that varies with gait and with visual search, most notably as the cranes prepare to strike with the bill.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Head-bobbing behavior in walking whooping cranes (Grus americana) and sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis)
Series title Journal of Ornithology
DOI 10.1007/s10336-007-0199-0
Volume 148
Issue 2 Supplement
Year Published 2007
Language English
Publisher Springer-Verlag
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 7 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Ornithology
First page 563
Last page 569