Lateralisation, the different use of one or other side or appendix of the body, is basically determined by brain asymmetry which, in turn, is likely to be due to adaptive reasons. Several studies have been carried out on birds in general. However, birds of prey in particular, although they are very good candidates, have not been investigated from the sensory lateralisation point of view. In fact, many species scan for prey while perched and capture terrestrial prey with the feet, having at the same time the obvious necessity to keep their balance. This paper, therefore, investigates the existence of some sort of lateralisation in several species of both Falconiformes and Strigiformes temporarily in captivity. Attention is given to: (a) the direction of body rotation when perceiving a sound stimulus from behind the body and (b) the use of the feet when grasping a terrestrial prey. Lateralisation was found to be clearly present in both types of tests, although with some difference in its expression. In fact, almost every species tested rotated its body anti-clockwise, i.e. to the left, both in the first test and in repeated tests, with no noticeable difference between Falconiformes and Strigiformes. Also prey grasping showed a preferential use of one foot. Falconiformes preferred clearly to grasp the prey with one foot only in both the first test and in subsequent ones. Strigiformes, on the other hand, preferred using both feet, although a not insignificant proportion of individuals used one foot. Only the little owl seemed to have the tendency to prefer to use the right foot only, in a similar manner to Falconiformes. In fact, this bird is the most "diurnal" owl species among those tested, suggesting that lateralisation in footedness might be affected by adaptive constraints more than by phylogenetic similarities. Lateralisation, therefore, seems to be very widespread among birds of prey. Preferential use of the right foot also appears to be a general habit, and this is probably connected to the use of left hemisphere when manipulating food items.
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