Why do most birds bob their head back and forth when they walk?


Why do most birds bob their head back and forth when they walk?

In: 57

It’s either a product of the birds visual fixation or depth perception. A lot of birds’ eyes have non overlapping fields of view which makes them hard to tell how far away things are. They use motion parallax to solve this by bobbing or turning their heads.

Not all birds do! And there’s a common trait among the ones that do. The ones that do all have their eyes on the side of their head (as opposed to the front of their head). This is a trait of non-predatory animals in general. It’s beneficial because it allows for a greater range of vision. But the cost is depth perception. But by bobbing their head they can see from two points and get a little idea of the distance of the things they’re seeing.


Disregard the other answers, it has nothing to do with depth perception. The answer is actually really simple: chickens can’t move their eyes within the eye socket.

In order to see properly, the eye needs to be focused on a particular point. As the focus moves the image becomes blury. That’s why, when you look from one point of focus to another your eyes change directly instead of moving smoothly as you’d pan a camera.

Because mammals (and some birds) can move their eyes they can focus on a point while their heads are moving. For those birds who cannot move their eyes in their sockets they have to keep their head still. That’s actually what chickens are doing when they’re bobbing; they are quickly moving their heads forward so that they can keep it still while moving their bodies.

I was just wondering about this a few days ago, thought it just simply helps their movement and walking. Sort of how we move our hands while walking.


It was a simple programming error in early generations of these mechanical devices. The engineers in charge were rushed to get these machines out in the public sector, as photography was becoming a more viable and widely-used technology. As most dev time was put towards flight, it was an easy bug to miss. Unfortunately for the big gov, people began to notice this as a typical quirk of birds, and it even entered a couple written records. It was concluded that it was easier to keep consistency in the head-bobbing walk than to fix it and destroy all records with no trace. This had been done a few times before but never with great success.

TLDR r/birdsarentreal and this began as a simple coding error that was just easier overall to keep in the programming logic

Iirc pigeon’s heads and feet are connected, so if the move their feet, the move their head automatically. Don’t have source tho