site map
Vibrations and Touch in Birds

Birds have contact and touch sensors on various parts of their bodies. These include their feet, bills and tongues ( i.e Woodpeckers). This relates to the fact that it is these parts of their bodies which most often come into contact with the rest of the world. In some birds, the tactile sensors are particularly well developed in the bills allowing them to feed mostly by probing and feeling for prey, this is most evident in waders. Birds also have special small feathers called bristles which are situated all around the body and which help birds know where their feathers are.

Some birds also have large numbers of vibration sensors called Herbot's corpuscles located in their legs. These allow them to detect the approach of other birds or predators along both the ground and on the limbs of trees. Herbot's corpuscles have also come to play a role in the nuptial displays of certain species of grouse. This ability to detect very faint vibrations has also been suggested as a reason why birds seem to know when an earthquake is about to happen before we humans have any idea about it.

Information on this page was contributed by EarthLife.

Please send EcoBirds your comments.



EcoPort Home Page
Search EcoPort
This search facility allows you to search EcoPort directly without having to navigate the more detailed EcoPort menu. EcoPort contains record structures for all birds of the world, and can be searched on scientific or common name in any language (provided it has already been entered). As the bird entities in this knowledge system are relatively new, most records will consist of the scientific name, some taxonomic information, and at least one common name only. This facility can be used to search for any entity type in EcoPort e.g. plants, insects, fungi, bacteria, mammals, birds, and spiders.

Last updated: 24 November 2002