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Can Birds See Color? Science Says Better Than Humans

Image via iStock.com/MriyaWildlife

When it comes to animals, many people assume that their vision is more limited than our own. This is especially true when it comes to the color scales of animal vision.

However, recently a group of scientists in Sweden decided to answer the question, “Can birds see colors?”

What they found was that birds can actually see a color that we cannot.

The Sun explains that while humans see the world in a mixture of red, green and blue, a bird’s vision adds ultraviolet into the mix. So, when we look at a dense forest, we may only see a wall of green foliage. However, when birds look at a forest, they see contrasts in foliage, which allow them to navigate efficiently.

Study author Professor Dan-Eric Nilsson, a scientist at Lund University, explains to The Sun, “What appears to be a green mess to humans are clearly distinguishable leaves for birds.”

Professor Nilsson says, “No one knew about this until this study.”

To figure it out, they used a camera that has specialized rotating filters that match the four types of cones—or light sensors—in a bird’s retina. Their findings show that when a bird looks at foliage, the upper side of leaves appear in a much lighter ultraviolet, while the undersides appear dark. This helps birds navigate, find food and land within the trees.

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