Best 15 Ways, How birds see? Updated 2021

How birds see?

Birds have remarkable features that can easily make anyone’s jaw drop. We are not joking, for example a bird known as Palila, only eats seeds of mamma plants. The seeds of these plants contain high amounts of toxins and fatal substances which are enough to kill someone. Or do you know that penguins, which are also birds, do not have the capability to detect sweet or bitter taste, as they can also taste sour, and salty taste. So, yead birds are marvelous creatures, but how do birds see?

Birds are tetrachromats creatures. Tetra means “Four”, while chromats mean “colors.” That is, birds can see four colors including blue, green, red, and Ultraviolet aka UV.

From being amazing flyers to tricky sleepers, birds have also evolved and developed their vision and eyesight as well. I have a parrot, and I often think, and I am sure you do too, that we humans have eyes on the front but these creatures have their eyes present or lateral sides so how do they know where they are going, either left or right? So, how birds see?

We know that some birds like eagles and owls have great eyesight with high definition vision; some of them are even able to detect magnetic fields. They also can see while they are sleeping. Therefore these phenomenon’s make this topic quite interesting and intriguing to explore.

If I say that out of all the senses of birds most brilliant is the vision, then it would not be wrong because scientists have also made jaw opening discoveries in this field as well. A bird’s eyes are enormous; large and more giant eyes mean high-quality vision. They must have big eyes because they have to prevent colluding with their flock members during flight, have to capture the hidden prey, and the list goes on. So how birds see?

How do birds see when they are going?

Birds indeed have eyes on their sides like parrots and pigeons, but that’s not true for all of the bird species. Owls have much bigger eyes that are present in the front and near each other, almost like us. However, the birds which have eyes on sides of the birds which have eyes on the face can both manage to see vertically, though their modes of vision are not the same. 

How birds see the world is affected by the placement of their eyes. Any creature that has two eyes can see a three-dimensional image of an object, can estimate the breadth and length of an item as well as the distance at which the article is present. Having eyes on the front means a smaller radius for vision. For example, try to see anything from the nook of your eye without turning your head. That’s it, it is your limit, and you can’t see further unless you turn your head. Same is the case with the owls, the radius ranging to almost 150 degrees but they can rotate their head to see from a vast large distance.

On the other hand, birds having eyes on sides is capable of watching to a considerable distance because of the increased field of vision. They can see up to 300 degrees without rotating their heads. In other words, they can see straight and on the sides simultaneously.

How birds see? Especially the predators? The attacker birds like owls and eagles have a binocular vision which means they have eyes on the front, and both of the eyes will focus on one object at the same moment. Whereas, other birds like parrots, pigeons, and sparrows rely on monocular vision; both of the eyes can see different items simultaneously.

How do birds see as compared to humans?

For birds, one thing’s sure that they have far better vision than humans. A clear example of this is the pigeons because they are the most wonderful creatures on earth regarding colour detection and hence are used for many rescue and communication purposes. Do you want to know about how birds migrate?

Now, comes the exciting fact we humans see three colours; red blue and green, the phenomenon called trichromatic vision. But birds see four colours; red, blue, green and UV, making their vision tetrachromatic. To quote an example, a bird called yellow-breasted chat has yellow feathers on its chest. To us, the remaining part of the bird looks blue. But, to the fellow birds, they also see UV feathers on it. In this way, they also differentiate between males and females.

The thing is we can never estimate what they see because UV light has no color. But they see different colour ranges due to the UV light spectrum.

How birds see 11

Can birds see colour?

There is no doubt that vision is the most developed thing in birds. They utilize their vision for recognizing different insects and flowers to eat and to acknowledge their partners as well. Understanding how birds see? also helps the owners to learn more about their bird pets.

Colours Birds see:

Birds have a broader vision spectrum than humans. As I have explained in the above section that birds are tetrachromat; therefore, they can see UV as well, along with the three primary colours. Not only do they have more ability to differentiate among colours, but their vision accuracy is also very well developed from humans. Their keen vision enables them to distinguish among different colour shades which may not be done by the human eye.

In birds, the cells which are responsible for colour detection called “cones” are more in number than humans and any other mammal. They also have four types of cones, three for the primary and the last one for UV detection. The number of cone cells is different in different species.

How birds see different colour shades? It is because each cone cell that is present in the bird’s eye has a little bit of oil in it and therefore, they have higher colour sensitivity. It is also believed that this technique also helps them to see their hidden prey, and in other words, their eyes have transparency even to camouflages. The aquatic birds can see deep into the ocean and can have a more transparent vision in the water for locating and catching their prey.

Diurnal birds have more cones and hence are more colour sensitive rather than nocturnal birds. However, the nighttime birds have more rod cells; cells which make vision better in the dark, e.g. owls. They may not be able to differentiate among colour, but they have excellent vision in the night.

Benefits of watching UV light:

Being able to see the UV light makes the bird’s vision much more unique than humans. It completely changes the perception of how birds see different objects surrounding them.


Most fruits and berries usually have a shiny coating over them. This coating reflects the UV light and makes it more outstanding and more apparent to birds. Thus the process of finding food gets much more comfortable. Similarly, some insects also display the same phenomenon, making them a perfect and easy meal for birds.

Identifying mates:

Mostly the genders of the birds aren’t readily visible to humans, but birds have a different mechanism to determine the genders. For example, the male and female gender of blue tits appear similar to the humans, but as birds can see Uv light, it is researched that male blue titis can be clearly seen having a crown under the UV light. Birds can easily define the difference between both genders, and they also use UV markings to identify their territory or even to tell the difference among individuals of the same gender. 

Scientists Showed How Differently Birds See The World

Have you ever wondered how an eagle is capable of capturing a mouse from such a height, and you can’t even clearly see after waking up? Scientists have searched for us to know about How birds see? because they don’t see the same as we do. 

The sensitivity towards the UV light changes the whole game of the bird’s vision. Birds show extreme sensitivity towards the UV light. 

When the spectrometer was invented, scientists observed that the colours of the different genders of birds might appear similar to the human eye, but when they are analyzed under the spectrometer, they saw some fascinating things. The colours of both the genders were differently under the UV light. Hence scientists proved that this is the way through which they detect their genders. 

How birds see 22

Bird Vision v/s Human vision

Though they have the same five senses as we do, the bird’s vision stands out among these. How birds see? Due to their capability of seeing UV light along with the primary colours, their vision becomes more broad-spectrum and sensitive than humans. 

They have a very smaller blind spot than humans, increasing their range of vision. Their cones are also different from humans enabling them for accurate and sensitive colour identification. 

This Uv colour detection helps them in identifying their food more easily, in locating their prey, recognizing genders, and even also to differentiate among eggs of different species. They can leave their egg in another nest and then can easily identify which one was their own.

Question and Answers

How birds see flowers?

Some birds are also violet sensitive along with red, blue and green colours. For example, the honeyeaters see most of the flowers as a broad spectrum colour range. Though they don’t do pollination with these flowers, still they show sensitivity towards them due to violet light.

Can birds see at night?

Nocturnal birds can see at night brilliantly. However, the diurnal birds are not good keepers at night. Nocturnal birds have a denser number of cones in their retina, and hence they can detect any presence in the dark more easily.

Can birds see infrared? 

Birds are tetrachromats which enable them to see UV light as well along with the primary colours; red, blue and green. Most of the birds cannot see above 700 nanometers, which means infrared is not visible to them as well.

What colours do birds see the best?

Birds have an excellent vision, and they can tell about different things much more clearly than humans. They also have more field of vision due to the 300-degree vision. They have four types of cones in their retina which enables them to see red, blue, green and UV.

How are birds’ eyes different?

Birds have quite more significant eyes than humans. Bigger eyes mean a larger field of vision and higher image quality. However, their sight varies according to the species of birds. Humans are trichromats while birds are tetrachromats. Humans can’t detect the UV light while birds can.

How birds see 33

How birds see humans?

As birds can detect UV light; hence their vision is much more different than humans. Various objects, including humans, have different UV radiations which are differently detected by birds. The colours which look bright to us look brighter when placed under the UV light.

You May Also Like

About the Author: Zoological world

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: