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What level of vision do birds have?

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Old Tuesday 16th January 2018, 10:09   #1
Manix
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What level of vision do birds have?

Hi,

A very broad question, and perhaps a silly one. But, what level of vision do the birds of Britain have?

I realise there are many different species, but are there any overall traits I should be aware of in order to stay "hidden". E.g. colour, movement etc?

I'm generally taking photos of garden bird, urban coastal, urban fresh water.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
M
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Old Tuesday 16th January 2018, 10:44   #2
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One important point: birds can see UV light. So if you have camouflage clothes and wash them with a soap powder that contains 'optical brighteners' (UV reflectors!), they stand out like a shining light to birds and become useless.
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Old Tuesday 16th January 2018, 10:45   #3
Hauksen
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Hi Manix,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manix View Post
But, what level of vision do the birds of Britain have?
Generally, bird vision tends to be excellent in daylight, with colour vision far superior to human eyesight. Birds have four types of colour receptors instead of the three types human have, can perceive light in a wider spectrum than humans, and discern much more clearly between different colours throughout that spectrum.

This site shows two simulations of "what birds see":

http://blog.vetdepot.com/what-colors...s-actually-see

The size of the eye tends to limit overall sharpness and performance in twilight conditions, though. I seem to remember reading that birds of Blackbird size don't quite match human eye resolution, and that when the human eye can easily discern details at dusk and dawn, it's too dark for many birds' eyes to do the same.

Probably the Wikipedia article provides some useful detail:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_vision

For shooting birds in your own garden, I've heard that some photographers get great result from setting up a small hide. Here's an older thread on these:

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=15454

Regards,

Henning
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Old Tuesday 16th January 2018, 11:40   #4
Manix
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Hi,

Thanks, that's some really useful info!

The birds down at the local loch are quite tame, so it's easy to get very close to them for some nice shots. But the smaller garden birds are far more wary of me, combined with their small size and it's been quite hard to get good shots.

I'm fortunate that I have a tree outside my flat window, however my bright read work uniform isn't perhaps the best thing to wear!

I don't have any camo clothing, but I guess duller colours will help. And it's probably best to let the birds come to you, rather then sneak up on them.

Cheers,
M
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Old Tuesday 16th January 2018, 14:28   #5
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My experience, with no science to back it up !
Lots of it just common sense I know, but for what it's worth ....
Like us, birds see movement far quicker than they discern shapes, so either stand still in a good location and wait, or if you move, do it slowly. Also if you are approaching a bird or a flock, don't walk straight towards them, do so at an angle that slowly takes you closer, and ideally allows you to position with the sun behind you.
It seems to me that most birds are cautious of animals with stereo-vision (two eyes facing forward), therefore avoid looking straight at your target - look down or off to one side and use peripheral vision.
I have also found walking bent double works better than standing tall - probably the profile is less threatening?
Not sure clothing colour matters too much - as Nutcracker says what we see is different to what they do. Experiment a bit and see what works. Most likely dull drab is good, but even when wearing hi-vis on a dump while ringing gulls I find with a bit of fieldcraft it is still possible to approach quite close - of course in this case the regular birds will be conditioned to brightly coloured bipeds wandering around. Personally I think camo is only really useful if you plan to stay still - once you move the advantage is much reduced or gone altogether.

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Old Wednesday 17th January 2018, 15:25   #6
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Great tips, thanks!
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Old Wednesday 17th January 2018, 17:35   #7
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An excellent book covering all aspects of the various senses of birds...

https://www.theguardian.com/science/...irkhead-review

... including a few we lack!
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Old Thursday 26th April 2018, 10:31   #8
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I googled this issue recently as I also have problems with garden birds. What Mtem wrote is just about the outcome of my research and my own experience: birds don't care for colours but for the slightest movements, especially sideways.
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Old Thursday 26th April 2018, 19:20   #9
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Generally - move slowly and calmly. When I was young, I was suprised that elderly people often could get to the birds closer than I did.
At best, stay immobile and BELOW the bird.
Avoid any stealthy movement, anything out of ordinary.
Colors - generally dull green, brown, grey. Avoid red and also white. I noticed garden birds don't like me in red t-shirt.
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Old Friday 27th April 2018, 12:31   #10
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In response to "what level of vision do birds have", having watched last nights programme on peregrine falcons I would venture to suggest fairly good! The peregrine in question was able to see his handler with a tennis ball sized lure at 3km.
Not much we can do to hide from them really.
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Old Saturday 28th April 2018, 09:16   #11
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My wife has a shock of natural, white blonde hair, which is great when I'm waiting for her in an airport, I can see her in a crowd, literally a 100m away or more.

We've had numerous, differences of opinion when out in the field when I've tried to get her to be less visible by wearing a hat but so far I've lost every argument. I can't tell you how visible she is, I may as well be walking, hand in hand with a traffic light. I'm not sure it's made much difference in reality although, I can see her hair, through trees, at some distance very easily so she is presumably, at the very least, equally visible to any wildlife?


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Old Sunday 29th April 2018, 01:23   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulst View Post
In response to "what level of vision do birds have", having watched last nights programme on peregrine falcons I would venture to suggest fairly good! The peregrine in question was able to see his handler with a tennis ball sized lure at 3km.
Not much we can do to hide from them really.
Nope indeed - but fortunately the "danger zone" of many is not as far as their eyes can see! Garden and urban birds will already be habituated to humans and are relatively easy subjects, but many being so small, will still require a fairly long lens - 300mm or equivalent is probably the absolute minimum and you'll more likely want 400mm equivalent or above.

The "test" for that peregrine was not really its ability to see the lure, but to see its handler that was repeatedly tossing the lure into the air, and I would think picking out sonething the size of an adult human male, even at 3km, would be easy for such a bird. It would have been interesting to have attached the lure to the drone they later used (much more inconspicuous) and fly it low over the landscape at that distance...although even so, spotting a bright fluorescent yellow lure (tennis ball size - and colour!!!) would most likely be well within the bird's capabilities. I have seen them fly from perches probably 700m or more ahead of me towards interlopers that must have been at least three or four times that distance beyond me. That is pretty amazing when one thinks about it.
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Old Sunday 29th April 2018, 09:15   #13
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A guy I was ringing with reckoned that a kestrel could see a wriggling mealworm from about a kilometre away. Promptly demonstrated by catching the kestrel.
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Old Sunday 29th April 2018, 16:44   #14
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95 percent of my windows are covered with bird-proof CollidEscape covering. My kitchen window is clear, no covering, but I rarely have the blinds full open. Directly in front of the window is a birdbath sitting on a pedestal at window level. The dish is less than a meter from glass.

I have a good 25 species or more visiting the baths but the only birds that occasionally fly off into the window are the Eurasian Collared-Doves , White-wing Doves and Inca Doves. All the other birds see the window for what it is.

I've always wonder why that is? Are some species either near sighted or farsighted? Do doves have that affliction? Or is this an awareness issue, not fully cognizant of their surroundings?

These doves are gentle birds, don't get spooked easily unless there's sudden movement.

One year I witnessed, outside my kitchen window, a Blue Jay creep up on a Inca dove, grab it by it's neck and fly off with it. That doves wasn't even spooked by an approaching bigger bird. Makes me wonder if it even saw it coming.

Another thing, when I hike the park I often find groupings of bird feathers where a kill took place. Nearly a 100 percent are dove feathers, a few mocking bird feathers thrown in but predominantly they're dove feathers. I know doves are prolific birds for this area so that must account for something.
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