Toes

Through the winter, a few White-throated Sparrows can be found foraging in the 4th Avenue extension of Green-Wood. Most of the local White-throats who visit us in the winter are found deeper in the cemetery. The 4th Avenue section, which has streets on four sides (there’s a tunnel under 5th Avenue that I bet most Brooklynites don’t know about) is dominated by House Sparrows. House Sparrows aren’t found in large numbers deeper inside the cemetery; they really, really, like the proximity of people (places, food, etc).

Anyway, these White-throats will probably disappear soon as they head north to breed. But this particular one, alas, will not. The body, however, gives us incredible views of the passerine foot.

4 Responses to “Toes”


  1. 1 Chuck McAlexander April 17, 2021 at 12:36 pm

    The anisodactyl passerine foot is interesting in that there is a tendon which divide intio three sections as it passes under the foot pad or pes. This tendon closes the three front toes automaticslly as the bird drops down on a perch. This adaptation to arboreal life allows the bird to remain securely attached to the perch without tightening a muscle. This is how these birds can sleep without falling off the perch. There is still some ability to articulate the middle toe, but I can’t get a good explanation for that, so far.

  2. 2 elwnyc April 17, 2021 at 3:41 pm

    Always sad to see this. Did it run into a glass window or door?

  3. 4 Sherry Felix April 18, 2021 at 6:39 am

    As an added: In New York City we report bird kills, especially those near glass windows, to Audubon’s Project Safe Flight https://www.nycaudubon.org/our-work/conservation/project-safe-flight.


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