Anatomy of Parrot’s Feet and Its Functionality

Do's and Don'ts When Getting Along With Your First Parrot

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When we talk about birds, we usually visualize these kinds of interesting creatures that fly in the air. However, whether they go up, they must surely go down. Now, let’s talk about the bird’s feet, which let the birds move as well as to have rest while having a break from its long flight.

Birds Feet

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The bird’s feet are consists of exterior covering on the bird’s skin and ends with the claws or simply called as nails. The epidermis with the primary dermis, covering over the tendons and the bones of the bird’s foot along with the metrical pad, or simply described like the palm of the human hand. The total number of bones in the fingers and toes that make up the toe number or different as well.

Normally, the bird’s nail is just like a human’s fingernail; it has consisted of a bed of germinal tissue; the nail usually grows out from the bed. In wild birds, sustained growth of the nails is required because the tip is continuously being worn as the bird uses their feet and nails for their usual everyday works. Depends on the type of bird, the toes of a bird might get shabby from walking, running, climbing, swimming as well as food gathering.

While the human has their five toes in each of their foot, the most number of birds has four toes. Contrarily, the right number of its toes can be different by every bird species. The direction also of the bird’s toes point can be different based on its function. There are a few kinds of birds that have only three toes that are functional. These may include most of the waders, rheas, emus, cassowaries, a few numbers of woodpeckers as well as one of the passerine species. Most of these mentioned species of birds, their toe is comparable to the large toe of humans, which is missing. This usually happens on some of the considered fast-running birds or wading birds; this three-toed kind shows tridactylites.

The ordering of the bird’s toes commonly depends upon their function. Few kinds of birds have three toes that point forward and one toe back. This kind of ordering on the toes of the bird is called anisodactyl, and this was usually seen in the songbirds. Nevertheless, usually in our parrot friends, they have two toes forward and two toes in their back; they shared this trait in some woodpeckers, cuckoos, and toucans. This is commonly called as zygodactyly or usually known as the yoked toe. The owls, osprey, and turacos primarily have this zygodactylous foot, but they still have the capacity to move that fourth toe forward when necessary.

This zygodactyl foot having two toes forward, and another two toes backward is intended for the use for climbing as well as grasping in which the parrots are commonly very good at. In distinction of a useful outlook, there are also three main useful foot types: the grasping, walking as well as wading and swimming. The usual examples of each are the parrots that commonly grasp, mallards that walk, and the mergansers bird that is usually swimming.


A large number of our friend birds that are having a clutching type of foot is usually seen in the parrots. As an outcome, the accurately sized perches should adopt a parrot’s usual grasping conduct. Natural as well as cleaned branches are perfect perches for the pet birds. The natural branches might not be sprayed or put with the chemicals or an insecticide if you want to use them with your pet bird’s enclosures.

It is necessary to just spray them with antibacterial soap, and you should rinse it with the use of hot water, or you may use a spray that is made up of a 1-part chlorine bleach that consists of 20-parts water. Make sure that there is good ventilation, and your pet birds are not in that room when you are spraying a chlorine bleach. Just leave the solution for at least 15 minutes, then you rinse it with the use of water and let dry.

The following are some more roosting tips:

  • A large number of birds love to chew on with some fresh branches, particularly if the outer bark has not been dried. It is considered to be an as good exercise for the bird’s beaks, and this gives enrichment. Just make sure to take away any splintered pieces of wood or any sharp pieces that might cause injury to your pet.
  • Choose a perch size that is suited for your pet bird. Your bird’s nails may reach for at least half around the perch and never all the way around, but the perch should not that wide so that the bird is also unable to grasp it properly. The perches may be different in size and shape to change footpad as well as toe pressure. Improper perches might cause harm to food health and can be lead to bumblefoot.
  • When putting perches, just make sure that the droppings do not fall into food and water dishes. Also, make sure that perches in your pet bird’s cage are put in a pleasant location for your pet birds to perch high that also allows the bird to get food and water.
  • The sandpaper perches do not lessen the extent of a pet bird’s nails, but they might cause trauma to the food pad and can lead to being a bumblefoot or an infection that may become hard to treat luckily. The surging perches that may get bigger and then smaller can harm the feet of the birds if that is the only available perching option.

How the Birds Works Their Feet

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Most birds work their feet to walk or perch, but their feet can also be used as weapons for owls, hands in parrots, and paddles for ducks. The feet are also used crucial for scratching.

Toe Positioning

A lot of birds have four toes with the three that face forward and the one that faces at the back, but few birds’ toes are modified to suit, unlike needs. For example, a woodpecker, it has a two set of forwarding toes and two at its back, to support itself firmly against a vertical tree-trunk. The domestic chickens and the game birds have a fifth toe that consists of sharp claws that they use to fight their rivals.


Examples of swimming birds that have webbed feet are the ducks and cormorants. Their footwork like paddles to push against the water and propel the bird along. Their toes fold up out of the way as each of their legs swings forward like a rower that raise an oar out of the water before they push back again.

Walking on Water

Many marshland birds, like herons and moorhens, have their long toes that they used to spread their weight. This usually helps them to stop it from sinking in the mud. These birds considered the longest toes that belong to the tropical jacana, which they walk across in the lily pads and any other floating vegetation.

Killing Feet

The sharp claws of this species can pierce the skin or the skull of their prey, and they hold it down while tearing off the flesh of their prey. The soles of the killing feet have the tough pads of their skin, which they used to stamp on prey like snakes.


Now you have basic knowledge on the anatomy of parrot’s feet and their functionality. Their feet are used to find food and to protect themselves from predators. They use their claws to defend themselves, and they have killing feet to stamp on snakes and other prey.

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