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Why do some birds hop and others run? © Getty Images

Why do some birds hop and others run?

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Why hop or bounce when you have wings, that's what we want to know...

Asked by: Hugh Allen, Somerset


Almost all birds are capable of doing both, but it’s normally more energy efficient for small birds to move by hopping. Their light bodies are easy to bounce into the air and they cover much more distance in a single hop than a walking stride from their short legs.

For heavier birds, the extra load on their joints favours a gait that leaves one leg on the ground at all times. Plus, longer legs make walking faster. Birds that spend most of their time in trees are also more likely to hop because they mainly get around by jumping from branch to branch.


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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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