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Bird visual ecology

Birds rely on eyes with high acuity and brilliant colour vision for most of their behaviours, including foraging, mate choice and flight control. Birds are tetrachromats, seeing the world in even more sparkling colours than humans. In addition, their eyes have a number of pecularities the functions och which are not fully understood, such as double cones, coloured oil droplets in all cones types, the pecten and multifocal lenses.

Although all bird eyes share the same basic features, we expect specific adaptations to the ecology – for instance in seabirds, night-active birds and raptors  – but such adaptations have rarely been studied.

We study:

  • how the bird cone mosaic and ganglion cell density relate to behavioural spatial resolution of chromatic and achromatic stimuli
  • how the eyes of nocturnal birds such as owls and nightjars are adapted to their nocutrnal lifestyle
  • how good birds really can discriminate colours, and how well they can do this in changngling light environments
  • how seabird eyes are adapted to a life at sea
  • how well birds can see stationary and moving contrast patterns

and some other questions. Our pet birds are budgerigars and chickens, but we have looked at a large range of birds. Students with interest in birds and bird vision are welcome!

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Rainbow coloured parrot

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