Head-bobbing in the Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)
Keywords:Ring-billed Gull, Larus delawarensis, head-bobbing, behaviour, foraging, head movement, head stabilization, motion parallax, visual perception
AbstractMany birds bob their head as they walk or run on the ground. The functional significance of this behaviour is unclear, but there is strong evidence that it plays a significant role in enhancing visual perception. If head-bobbing is advantageous, however, then it is a puzzle that some birds do not head-bob. As a group, gulls (Laridae) are among the birds that reportedly do not head-bob,yet here we report head-bobbing among Ring-billed Gulls (Larus delawarensis), observed and filmed in Ontario, when walking relatively slowly while foraging on the ground. This suggests that head-bobbing plays a key role in the visual detection of food items in this species. We suggest that head-bobbing may be a relatively common behaviour in foraging Ring-billed Gulls and speculate that other gulls (and indeed other birds) previously thought not to head-bob may in fact do so under certain circumstances.
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