For decades, people have been wondering how other animals see. Scientific research done recently has revealed how wonderful the diversity of vision is across the animal kingdom. For example, a dragonfly’s brain works so fast that it captures movements in slow motion, snakes pick up infrared heat signals from warm objects, thus detecting their prey, whereas horses and zebras have eyes pointed sideways, enabling them to have peripheral vision and escape danger when necessary. In addition to this, insects use compound eyes that are made of thousands of tiny lenses that look like a honeycomb pattern. It is amazing to learn and understand that animals have their own way of seeing and understanding the world, but birds are more unique when compared with the other animals.
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Birds are bizarre creatures when you really look into them. For example, did you know that penguins can only recognize salty and sour tastes? Or that Palila birds, native to Hawaii, feed on the seeds of the māmane plant, which contain a level of toxins that would easily kill any other small animal? Or that pigeons are thought to be best at color detection than any animal on Earth and are often used in search and rescue missions? Various avians have different superpowers and different ways of working their sensations, but one thing is true for most birds – their superior (in comparison to humans) vision.
The Image comparison of spectral range between humans and birds. Birds are tetrachromats which means they see four colors: UV, blue, green and red, whereas human is trichromats and can only see three colors: blue, green, red. Take note, that the magenta UV “color” shown in the image has been selected to make it visible for humans, it is a “false color”, as per definition ultraviolet|ultraviolet illumination|UV|actinic radiation|actinic ray} light has no color.
Joe Smith, an ornithologist, he says that birds have a wonderful ability to see an entire spectrum of colors that are invisible to us, people. In 2007, scientists, with the aid of a spectrophotometer, analyzed the colors of 166 North American songbird species that did not have a clear physical difference between the sexes. From a human’s perspective, in 92 % of species, both males and females look identical. However, the study showed that these birds have colors that are simply undetectable by our eye that they differentiate their genders by.
The male yellow-breasted chat features a yellow breast as it has in the name, however, its potential mates or rivals were also able to see ultraviolet feathers on his breast that set him aside from the females of the species. the idea was once more proven in another study in which scientists placed taxidermied male and feminine Chats in the wild to examine how their other counterpart would react. Males stayed faithful to their territorial nature and attacked the stuffed male Chats and tried to win over the taxidermied females. Thus it showed that they could see something that the researchers couldn’t.