The Eye of the Avian

By Dave Hanks

The EYE of the AVIAN is upon you;

Bold and bright, regally shining –

An entrée into the soul of each creature.

To be close-up and personal is but a hope,

Because their extraordinary sight prevents it,

And the ornithological world

Will retain much of its mystery and richness!

Vision is the most important sense for birds; in fact it is superior to almost all other vertebrates. Good eye sight is essential for flight. A secondary eye lid (nictitating membrane) gives extra protection and aids vision in less than favorable atmospheric conditions. Bird eyes also have ciliary muscles that can change the shape of the lens for a greater advantage. Bird eyes are the largest, in relation to their size, when compared with other animals.

Migrating birds can spot unused nests, or sources of food, from aloft and descend to feed or bed down for the night. Predatory birds such as hawks, eagles, and vultures have vision powers that are 3 – 4 times sharper than ours. Vultures and hawks can spot rodents from heights of 10 – 15,000 feet, and then dive at over 100 mph and still keep their target in focus. Eagles have tremendous vision. They can spot a rabbit that is several miles away.

There is a saying: “When entering the forest, the deer will hear you, the bear will smell you, and the bird will see you.”

(A Short-Eared Owl keeps me at a distance with his incredible vision)