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Why do some birds hop and others run?

Sent in by Rebecca from Milton Keynes

Generally speaking, smaller, lighter birds hop whilst large heavy birds walk or run. By evolving this way, both groups use less energy to get around.
 
Most small garden birds, like tits and finches, hop rather than run. This is because the majority of them spend most of their time in trees. Hopping is a useful way of getting quickly from branch to branch. There are always exceptions. Wagtails are small birds, but they spend much of their time on the ground chasing insects and so they run, rather than hop. 
 
Birds that run or walk, such as partridges and moorhens, spend much of their time on the ground. Hopping all the time would use up a lot of energy, and so they have evolved to walk more smoothly. It also helps with speed – birds that spend a lot of time on the ground need to be able to quickly run into cover to escape from a potential predator! Exceptions to this rule are magpies and jays, which hop. Although they do spend time on the ground, they spend more time in the trees than other members of the crow family, like rooks and carrion crows, which run. 

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