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Re: Folding Feathers Out of the Way
Jaime A. Headden wrote:
> What interested me, though, was that these birds,
> leaping and biting on the carcass, seemed not too
> concerned with their feathers. In some cases, vultures
> were actually standing on vultures, and biting at each
> other. I think (Key words, "I think") that if modern
> birds subject their flight feathers to this type of
> harsh abuse, then I do not think (Once again, my
> personal opinion) that it would be unreasonable for an
> early bird to climb trees with its forelimbs.>
And yet when eagles or vultures seriously fight amongst themselves, it
is usually done feet first. I have seen eagles, vultures and condors all
flip onto their back while scrapping on the ground, presenting their
talons in the air to ward off attack. It doesn't seem to be a submissive
posture either, rather a defensive one. When raptors fight in mid air
they also often lock talons, rather than buffeting each others wings.
All of these behaviours may be a way of protecting important flight
feathers, and may be why the legs and feet are still armoured with
scales/scutes (you'd think that with all those weight saving adaptations
they would have been lost somewhere along the way).
Of course you also have birds like the spur-winged plover that go and
throw a spanner in the works by using their wings agressively.