Head-bobbing of walking birds

J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2007 Dec;193(12):1177-83. doi: 10.1007/s00359-007-0281-3. Epub 2007 Nov 7.


Many birds show a rhythmic forward and backward movement of their heads when they walk on the ground. This so-called "head-bobbing" is characterized by a rapid forward movement (thrust phase) which is followed by a phase where the head keeps its position with regard to the environment but moves backward with regard to the body (hold phase). These head movements are synchronized with the leg movements. The functional interpretations of head-bobbing are reviewed. Furthermore, it is discussed why some birds do bob their head and others do not.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Birds / physiology*
  • Gait / physiology
  • Head Movements / physiology*
  • Lower Extremity / physiology
  • Periodicity
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology
  • Walking / physiology*