Just like humans, parrots favour one side of the body than the other. Lefties worldwide can rejoice, as they are joined by parrots as being more left handed – or rather, more left footed than anything else. It is also known that some species do try both sides before deciding whether they want to be a rightie or a leftie.
Parrots are generally 'left-handed'
Researchers in Australia have found that virtually all of the parrots that they have studied prefer to use their left eye and foot, rather than their right eye and foot.
“Basically, you get this very close relationship with the eye that they use to view the object and then the hand that they use to grasp it, and it’s very consistent across all the species except a couple,” said Calum Brown, a senior lecturer at Macquarie University in Sydney, who led the study.
Brown said that some species are so strongly right or lef-handed, that there’s no variation at all. The study published in Biological Letters, said that Brown and his colleagues studeied about 320 parrots from 16 different Australian parrot species in order to find out what eye they used to view potential food.
In their study, they found that 47% of parrots were left-handed, 33% were right handed, and the rest were ambidextrous. Some of the younger birds also appeared to experiment with both sides before they settled on one side.
It was found that every Sulphur-crested cockatoo studied was left-handed. Howevre, juveniles after being fledged are experimenting with both hands all the time. They eventually settle on their left-hand.
In human-terms, the idea of ‘handedness’ is tied to tendency to use one brain hemisphere over another. This is also known as lateralization. In terms of the parrots, this is an advantage regardless of what their dominant side is.
“It’s quite obvious that in terms of direct foraging, as well as more complicated problem-solving situations, that if you’re very strongly lateralized, irrespective of whether you’re right or left handed, you tend to be better at this sort of task,” Brown said.
Brown also said that lateralisation allowed for efficiency, sort of like how a computer with 2 processors can do two things at once and multi-task well. This is what they believe is happening with the birds.