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Walks like a duck

The Country Curmudgeon

I recently became aware that birds, like people, have different walks.

Boing! Boing! Boing! That would be a sparrow and sometimes a robin. Robins also do the road runner, a rapid fire racing gait that suddenly pulls up short.

Crows are strollers and only occasionally hoppers. Crows actually seem to prefer walking to flying. They spend a lot of time on the ground plodding along, looking to the left and to the right for something good to eat. This is not as hard as it sounds. Crows are not real fussy.

I know people who kind of “boing” along on the balls of their feet, almost on their toes. It is very disconcerting to us flat footers. They seem to be out of control with their runaway gait, often leaning slightly forward. They need good brakes.

I also know those who walk like crows. It is a relaxed motion, sometimes incorporating the splayed duck foot, feet ahead of the body, kind of like a back-slash.

When I was a kid, the cop on the beat walked like that. He could keep this up for hours, looking here and there for something good to eat while preserving the peace. He was a little fussy. For instance, he drew the line at road kill, but was not above a stale doughnut.

A lot of people do the duck walk thing, feet splayed at a 45 degree angle. It is a puzzle to me. You expend the same amount of effort as a straight ahead step, but only go about two-thirds as far. This effectively increases the distance of any hike by 50 percent as the duck walks.

The crow may fly in a straight line, but even they lose some ground when walking as they are a bit pigeon-toed. I figure they lose maybe one-fifth as they are not very pigeon-toed.

Pigeons (obviously) are. It’s a wonder they don’t trip over themselves. One leg has to hurdle the other. I have read that the early Iroquois Indians, when traveling on business, used an easy, loping motion that would eat up the miles while turning their toes inward to minimize tripping hazards.

I’ll bet they caught what-for when they got home because this probably wore out the edge of the moccasins prematurely and it was the little woman who had to chew half a deer hide (admittedly an acquired taste) to make new ones.

Finally we come to the stork, the John Cleese of the bird world. His silly walk (Cleese or the stork, either one works) has inspired a generation (mine) to, well, be silly. Oh. You already noticed.

Bill Abrams resides, and ruminates on feathered follies, in Pine Plains.