Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Comb In the Claw


Many birds possess a useful comb in the claw of the middle toe of the foot. This has been noticed in owls, nightjars, herons, bitterns, cormorants, gannets, etc.

It has been explained as a means of holding the prey securely. The comb is sometimes replaced by a curved blade with teeth, which runs along the inner side of the claw. Such a blade is found in razorbills, wild ducks, gulls, starlings and many other birds.

Where a comb is required the inner edge of this blade becomes divided into teeth. Young nightjars or goatsuckers have only the blade, but old ones have a well developed comb.

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