California Outdoors for the week of 12/12/2014
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Question: How well can ducks actually see? Can they see color? I know deer see different shades of gray, but what about ducks and geese?
Answer: Waterfowl can control the curvature of both the lens and cornea (mammals, including humans, only control the lens). This is basically how birds can see extremely well while flying andwhile in the act ofdiving/feeding. In addition, their eyes act independentlyand they use one at a time to allow for depth perception because nearly all waterfowl have monocular, not binocular, vision (they can’t stare forward atobjects).
Another unique thing about waterfowl is they can see in almost all directions. A few ducks are the exception to the rule, but usually the eye placement allows them to view in many different directions at the same time. Second, waterfowl have a very high number of cones (which dictates color vision in humans), which allows them to see sharp images and have color vision in which colors are more vivid than they are for humans. Their breadth of color vision is much wider than our own because UV light can be observed by waterfowl (UV light is absorbed by lenses in humans).This allows waterfowl to fly at night or feed in the dark or in low light conditions.
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