Bird Families

So many flowers on this tiny bird


No matter how many writers and philosophers talk about the "dullness" of our life, the world around us is very bright. This is especially noticeable in the summer, when all of our surroundings are covered with green vegetation, and the night cities burn with different colors. Well, we can be called lucky - the human eye is able to perceive much more bright colors than the organs of vision of other animals. But birds in this matter have surpassed us anyway, because recently scientists found out that some of them see colors that we cannot even imagine. And all because nature gave them a more advanced vision system, because they need it to communicate and search for food.

Some birds see the world brighter than we do. And it's scientifically proven

Perception of colors

The enviable ability of birds was reported in the scientific journal PNAS. The number of colors that an animal perceives directly depends on the number of light-sensitive cells in its eyes. In vertebrates, to which we also belong, the so-called cones - processes of light-sensitive cells of the retina. In people without visual impairment, there are three types of cones that perceive red, green, and blue colors. Other shades like black, yellow, pink, and so on are created in the brain when it receives information about the mixing of the three primary colors.

For example: yellow color occurs in the brain when “red” and “green” cones are activated in the eyes.

There are two types of flowers in nature: spectral and non-spectral... Spectral colors are visible to us like yellow, red and green - they are all on the rainbow and excite either one of the visual cones, or those that are adjacent. There are four cones in the eyes of birds, which means that they see many more colors than we do. Take a look at the image below - each axis of the quadrangular pyramid represents a spectral color. There are shades between them that we can distinguish between you and me. But, since birds have four cones, they can perceive the shades shown in dotted lines. We cannot even imagine how these colors look.

The color space that birds see

Creatures with three cones are called trichromats, and with four - tetrachromats.

Bird vision

To prove this, researchers from the United States and Canada conducted an experiment. As part of their scientific work, they tested the vision of a hummingbird species tricolor selasphorus (Selasphorus platycercus). Scientists came to one of their habitats and installed two drinking bowls on the ground. They poured plain water into one of them, and sweet water into the other, which hummingbirds love very much. The drinking bowls were illuminated with red, green, blue or ultraviolet LEDs. The sweet water differed in color from the usual one, and due to the combination of four colors, only hummingbirds could see the "sweet" hue.

Tricolor selasphorus on a drinker

When the birds remembered the color of the delicious water, the researchers swapped the drinking bowls. They monitored the reactions of the birds from a distance of ten meters and noted that the tiny creatures quickly noticed the change and immediately flew to the sweet water. This experiment was repeated for three years and with practically the same result. Therefore, there is no doubt that birds are able to distinguish much more colors than we do.

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Hummingbird plumage and flowers are partly colored in colors that we can't see, scientists say. From this it follows that the perception of more colors is necessary for them to communicate and search for food. This assumption is valid, at least for hummingbirds. How things are with other species of birds, scientists still do not know - more research is needed.

After this article, I recommend reading the material about the deadly attack of the most dangerous bird in the world.

Scientists still do not know much about the life and abilities of birds - the descendants of dinosaurs can be considered one of the most mysterious animal species on our planet. But the veil of secrets is gradually opening and recently my colleague Lyubov Sokovikova said that despite their tiny brain, birds are able to build multi-level communities, just like humans. And in another material, already I, told how seabirds use sticks as a tool to maintain the purity of their bodies.

The plumage of the head of a rainbow Inca hummingbird from Ecuador!

The Inca hummingbird is a species of hummingbird in the Trochilidae family. Found in Ecuador and Peru. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical humid mountain forests, subtropical or tropical alpine shrubs at an altitude of 1500–3300 m and heavily degraded former forests.

The hummingbird sees colors that humans cannot even imagine!

This was found out experimentally. As it turned out, birds could easily distinguish between different types of non-spectral colors in order to receive a more coveted reward.

Results demonstrated in experiments with the tricolor selasphorus (Selasphorus platycercus - a bird of the hummingbird family) in Colorado suggest that the ability to distinguish non-spectral colors (including ultraviolet waves) may play a vital role in the behavior of this hummingbird species, including mating, feeding and avoiding predators.

Unlike humans, which have three types of color-sensitive cones in their eyes, birds have four types of cones to help them handle differences between different colors. With three cones, human eyes can perceive the so-called trichromatic color, which is a neural mixture of red, green, and blue light.

Thanks to this, our brain can perceive, for example, such a non-spectral color as violet (because it is a combination of blue and red). But animals with an extra cone can see an even wider spectrum of colors by being sensitive to more light wavelengths - opening the door to other kinds of color combinations that we cannot see or even imagine.

Mary Kaswell Stoddard, evolutionary biologist at Princeton University:

“Humans are color blind compared to birds and many other animals. Not only does the fourth type of cone extend the range of colors visible to birds to ultraviolet light, it potentially allows birds to perceive color combinations such as ultraviolet + green and ultraviolet + red - which were difficult to verify. ”