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Is Your Parrot A Leftie?

Celebrate Left Handers Day with bird science and leftie bird photos!

Jessica Pineda

Follow Jessica Pineda on Twitter at @parrotsandvets

Meet some of the left-handed parrots that have visited the BirdChannel studios.

August 13 is Left-Handers Day (#lefthandersday), and if you’ve never been left-handed or you don’t know anyone who is, 1) now you do (hi!) and 2) us lefties have it tough sometimes. The trials that come from scissors, can openers and slicing bread neatly cannot be understated* — and when there’s only 10 percent of you in the world, it can be a very lonely right-handed world sometimes.

But I’m here to tell you you’re not alone, fellow lefties. Chances are your beloved parrot might very well be left-handed too.

Parrots Are Lefties?
Back in 2011, a study was published in Biology Letters called "Cerebral lateralization determines handpreferences in Australian parrots.” Researchers studied 322 Australian parrots (16 species in total), and found that 47 percent of them were left-handed, according to Reuters

Green-winged macaw
While a lot of parrots are left-handed, they can easily be ambidextrous too.

Researchers determined this by the parrots’ "eye” preference (what eye they use to look at the food/block before picking it up). According to the study’s abstract , "Across all species, eye preferences explained 99 percent of the variation in foot use in Australian parrots. The vast majority of species showed significant relationships between eye and foot preferences at the population level.”

The study also revealed that sulphur-crested cockatoos might be primarily left-handed. "Indeed we have yet to find a right handed sulphur-crested cockatoo,” researcher Culum Brown told the BBC. He also explained how young parrots experiment with both feet before deciding on an eventual foot preference.

So rejoice parrot lovers! You may not be alone! And if your parrot is right-handed, don’t worry. Her beak is probably strong enough to be a can opener. (Though, FYI, you can get specially-crafted tools for those things too.)

Not A Leftie? Celebrate Anyway!
If you and your parrot aren't left-handed, take time to enjoy your bird’s unique foot preference anyway. According to the BBC, "Handedness was once a trait believed to be unique to humans.” I love that this study shows that when it comes to the little things, parrots and us may be more alike than we thought.

* Not to make too much light of the situation, but being left-handed really sucked back in the day. If you're ready to cringe a lot, feel free to look the history of lefties sometime. 

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Posted: August 12, 2014, 12:15 p.m. PDT

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Is Your Parrot A Leftie?

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Reader Comments
Lisa, RW, FL
Posted: 8/22/2014 7:28:49 AM
Lisa, RW, FL
Posted: 8/22/2014 7:27:28 AM
Very interesting! I never knew this before now.
Terry, Houston, TX
Posted: 8/13/2014 4:27:53 AM
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