The feet of perching birds can perch even on weak, slippery surfaces due to the rough bumpy skin on their soles.
Image: John Haslam /

Two rooks, an adult on left and a juvenile perched. Shows the three front toes and bumpiness.

Image: Torrey Ritter /

Birds on the wire

“The Passeriformes or ‘perching birds’ have the typical bird foot: three toes forward and one behind, with which a bird can perch crosswise on a branch. A bird’s sole is covered with rough bumpy skin, so that it can obtain purchase even on a small, weak, mobile twig which may be wet and slippery after rain.” (Foy and Oxford Scientific Films 1982:183)

Last Updated January 29, 2021