Considerable academic effort has been expended in the ongoing quest to understand head bobbing in birds (see previous article: ‘Why do birds bob their head while running?’) Now, for an expert overview, turn to the work of Professor Necker (University of Bochum [retired]) The professor explains that :
“Altogether it seems that the visual aspect of head-bobbing is the primary function. Head-bobbing may help in improving object detection when foraging on the ground. The coordination of head-bobbing and leg movements is not necessary for keeping balance but may help in stabilizing position during walking. For those birds that practice head-bobbing, both functions seem to be useful adaptations to cope with walking on the ground.”
But, he also notes:
“Although there are now quite a number of observations available, there is still no unequivocal interpretation of the function of head-bobbing and why some birds bob their head and others do not.“
BONUS: The professor has also compiled a unique online resource, in the form of a ‘List of bird species resting on one leg’ along with a photographic library of supporting evidence.