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Bird vision explained
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Species identification
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Position of eyes in the head



Let’s consider three relatively common bird species: owls, starlings, and mallards. Focus on their eyes, and try to determine the most important difference among them, based on the pictures.

Besides having eyes of different sizes, the most relevant difference is that their eyes are placed in different parts of their skulls. The owl has its eyes frontally placed (as humans), the starlings are slightly more peripherally placed, whereas the mallard has its eyes placed almost perfectly at periphery of its head. Thus, the eyes of the three species could be grouped into an increasing degree of laterality: owl, starling, mallard. This variation in the placement of the eyes has important implications for the size of different parts of the visual fields.

Download the following file with the top view of the heads of each animal and draw the limits of what you think the visual fields of each of these species should look like based on the placement of their eyes. Leave the area they would be able to see blank, and paint with a dark color the area they would not be able to see (blind spot)


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Updated: 01/09/2010

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