from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Having two toes projecting forward and two projecting backward, as certain climbing birds.
  • noun A zygodactyl bird, such as a parrot.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In ornithology, yoke-toed: noting those birds, or the feet of those birds, which have the toes disposed in pairs, two before and two behind.
  • noun A yoke-toed bird; a bird having the toes arranged in pairs.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) Any zygodactylous bird.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Having two toes pointing forward, and two pointing backward; zygodactylous.
  • noun ornithology Any such bird (such as the parrot.)

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective (of bird feet) having the first and fourth toes directed backward the second and third forward


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From zyg- + Ancient Greek δάκτυλος (dáktulos, "finger").


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  • According to this arrangement is called zygodactyl and is typical of parrots, woodpeckers, cuckoos and a few other kinds.

    New Archaeopteryx fossil provides further insight into bird, dinosaur evolution - The Panda's Thumb 2005

  • Wood peckers and other birds that climb tree trunks often have these zygodactyl toes.

    CNN Transcript May 16, 2007 2007

  • He suggested that it evolved semi-zygodactyl feet from an anisodactyl ancestral roller because its large size and specialisation for arboreal life required improved perching abilities.

    ScienceBlogs Channel : Life Science Darren Naish 2010

  • It's superficially similar to true rollers (Coraciidae) and ground-rollers (Brachypteraciidae) but, unlike them, has semi-zygodactyl feet (though it has frequently very depicted inaccurately by artists who, in the absence of better information, have assumed that it's anisodactyl, like true rollers).

    ScienceBlogs Channel : Life Science Darren Naish 2010

  • Like all parrots, they are zygodactyl, having 4 toes on each foot - two front and two back.

    Norwich Bulletin Home RSS 2008

  • Given the strong sexual dimorphism and barred, brown female plumage of the Courol, its semi-zygodactyl feet, strong, reinforced jaws, and habit of eating caterpillars, this proposed link - which, ironically, puts the Coural back where it started in 1783 - is intriguing (cuckoos have really interesting jaws, as do the possibly related turacos and hoatzins) [sexual dimorphism in the cuckoo

    ScienceBlogs Channel : Life Science Darren Naish 2010


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  • two toes forward, two toes backward - like a nuthatch

    February 13, 2007

  • Oh, like a nuthatch, that makes perfect sense...

    This word is pretty fun to say though.

    February 14, 2007

  • This sounds like a brand-name antibiotic.

    May 20, 2008

  • It's very useful for making your feet look like those of a nuthatch.

    May 20, 2008

  • Or a parrot.

    May 20, 2008

  • Or woodpeckers.

    May 21, 2008

  • Does anyone know the purpose of the nifty toe arrangement?

    October 24, 2009

  • For birds, it's useful for climbing tree trunks and scurrying through foliage.

    October 25, 2009

  • Ah, thanks for that.

    October 25, 2009

  • Climbing yes, but which zygodactyls scurry?

    October 25, 2009

  • I came here expecting to find some sort of version of a pterodactyl. They aren't related, I'm guessing.

    October 25, 2009

  • Well, they share the root dactyl, from Greek daktulos, meaning "finger".

    October 25, 2009

  • Mollusque... perhaps one or more of the flightless ones? Just a guess. I don't know nothin' about no flightless birds.

    October 25, 2009

  • Today's flight KX 371 by Kiwi Airlines from Auckland to Honolulu has been cancelled. Just like all the previous ones :-(

    October 25, 2009

  • The only flightless zygodactyl I can think of is the kakapo. I suppose with a combination of hopping and waddling, it might break into an occasional scurry.

    October 25, 2009

  • I have a parrotlet who scurries. Believe me, this guy scurries.

    Also, he can hold his food quite well while he's eating it.

    October 28, 2009