Kinematic parameters of terrestrial locomotion in cursorial (ratites), swimming (ducks), and striding birds (quail and guinea fowl)

Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2001 Dec;131(1):113-9. doi: 10.1016/s1095-6433(01)00471-8.


The importance of size, functional features and morphological features in adaptation for walking in birds were studied. The time and space kinematic parameters of locomotion were compared in two running birds, the ratites (rhea, kiwi, Paleognatiforms), in two swimming birds, (ducks) and two striding birds, (quail and Guinea fowl). The results showed that in the two phases, stance and swing, the time and space parameters worked in opposite ways: the duration of the swing was constant, but its length increased with speed. In contrast, the duration of the stance was correlated to speed, while its length was not (except in ducks). In all the birds, a higher speed was achieved by a decrease of the stance duration, and an increase of the swing length. The kinematic parameters were not used in the same way in all species: There is a size effect and large birds increase their speed mainly by increasing the frequency of their movements and the small species increase mainly their amplitude. Nevertheless, it is not the main factor and morphology, such as swimming adaptation features of the ducks, and behaviour, are important because they modify the mechanical constraints and influence the kinematics parameters.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Ducks / physiology*
  • Locomotion*
  • Species Specificity