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A Parrot's Super Sight

A Parrot's Super Sight

Posted by Parrot Eyesight on 7/3/2023

Parrots have better eyesight than people. Vision in birds is superior our vision. In every species of birds the eyes project laterally. This means that the axes of the eyes always go in different directions. Science pointed out in 24 Oct 2022 that ’The field of view of each eye are combined to give the total field view of the bird and to give a sector in front of the head where the two eyes overlap to give a binocular field. Our birds have built in binoculars.

They can see further than people and use their eyes in different ways. Birds depend on their eyes for flight, finding food, and evading predators. Because many birds are prey animals, they need sharpened senses. Thus, their eyes are constantly reacting to stimuli in their environments, which sometimes results in eye pinning. The pupil of the eye narrows until it shows as a slit.

Let’s look at the superiority of their eyes. Firstly as said before binocular vision.

An extreme example is the Australian wedge-tailed eagle who has enormous eyes, both in absolute terms and compared with most other birds, and as a result has the greatest visual acuity of any known animal. Other birds might benefit from the eagle’s acute vision, but eyes are heavy, fluid-filled structures, and the larger they are the less compatible they are with flight.

Compared with our eyes, those of birds are relatively immobile in their sockets (space and weight are limited, and the reduction of muscles needed to move the eyes constitutes an important saving), so raptors and owls in particular have to move their head when they are scrutinizing something.

The terms "eye pinning" and "eye flashing" both refer to a habit that birds display. The bird dilates and constricts its pupils. The action is conscious; the reasons for it are not always the same. So, the more you study eye pinning the closer you get to understanding what she is trying to say. Eye pinning might look strange at first to some of us, but it's a valuable key to understand what causes the behaviour. Knowing about their eyesight helps carers and handlers improve their handling of their charges.

Furthermore, a bird's eyes are relatively large compared to the rest of its body. This is another reason they can see so well. The larger the video monitor, so to speak, the better the vision and acuity. For instance, the extremely large eyes of owls help them to navigate their area and they live nocturnal lives. Predator birds, eagles, hawks have extremely acute vision. It is estimated that an eagle can spot prey at several miles distant.

Eye pinning is a bird's inborn response to her environment, showing the bird’s moods. Eye pinning can indicate various moods, curiosity, excitement, happiness, anger or fear. We can learn what they’re expressing by close observation and adapt our reactions.

A bird standing in a relaxed posture might pin her eyes with pleasure as someone she knows enters the room. An additional posture at the same time could be stretching out a wing. If the bird's posture is relaxed and its eyes are pinning, it usually means the bird is curious or interested in something in its environment.

This might occur when you're talking to your bird A bird may pin and stretch a wing when offered a treat. However eye pinning when associated with other bodily postures can show a bird fearful or angry. Possibly ready to bite. A bird’s posture becomes rigid, the feathers may suddenly puff out.

This is a sign of aggression. The carer who lacks experience can be puzzled or bewildered when the previously playful bird through over stimulation displays aggression. A Parrot pinning her byes and shuffling AWAY from you on the perch is saying clearly ’Don’t you dare touch me now.’

Just like you understand human body language, you also can with good observation learn to read your bird's movements. Although there are similarities in all bird behaviour, individual birds can offer striking differences. Every bird to use Susan Friedman’s apt aphorism’ is a study of one.’

Here is an example: with my African Greys, both bred in the same establishment and both harness trained, I could take Artha in her harness on the pommel of the saddle and go for a hack. If Casper was taken NEAR a horse, he would hiss and growl. Such diametrically opposite reaction in any group of birds are not uncommon reactions. Look for patterns in your bird's responses to various stimuli to help you determine what the bird is feeling.

With practice, you can utilise the eye-pinning behaviour as a tool to communicate with your bird. The more time you spend with your bird, the deeper your communications should become. Because predators look full on at their prey, it is a useful habit when approaching a strange bird or even your own to keep your body slightly sideways and do not approach into the bird’s space.

Arm’s length seems to provide a suitable distance. You are offering a tasty treat, the bird stretches out a wing lowers his head and pins. Treat joy fully accepted. The bird shuffles along the perch away from you Don’t follow. That’s one way to elicit a lunge. Try never to chase. Our aim is to have the bird come to us willingly


Parrots see more colours than we do. Humans have three colour-detecting cones in their eyes — to see red, green and blue shades — birds have a fourth cone that enables them to see ultraviolet (UV) light. This permits birds to see a broader spectrum of colours than we can.

Do female peacocks appreciate the colours in the male peacocks opened tail. Some would say that they do

Why is the peahen drab and her mate the opposite.

Peahens have to blend into the undergrowth to protect the chicks until they fledge. Not a good idea to be brightly coloured whilst sitting on eggs, or teaching chicks to feed and find water, seek safety, take care of feathers. Dad can be gaudy because mum is drab and does the parenting without him.

Eye problems

Feed a good diet keep everything clean and eye problems are rare. I have never had one in 25 years. Fighting can cause eye attacks, That has happened in the aviary, Parrots like poultry are attracted to eyes. When a hen dies and you find the corpse in the poultry yard, you may find her sisters have eaten the eyes .Eyes area an excellent source of protein. Perdy our Lesser Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, never attacked other birds or chicks but would never allow eyes to remain on any toy or photograph but would rip them off

Pets for Home. A first-rate internet website gives the following useful advice

Eye Disorders Commonly Seen in Birds Pets for Home

HEALTH & SAFETY•21 March 2022

An injury to the eye or a condition that's triggered by some sort of infection can lead to more serious conditions that need immediate treatment. However, the symptoms of an eye disorder may well be due to something else going on and which needs to be investigated by a vet so a correct diagnosis can be made earlier rather than later.

As a rule of thumb you should never take an eye disorder lightly and if in doubt you should seek veterinary advice as soon as possible. A vet would be able to make a thorough examination of your bird so that any other internal diseases can be ruled out as the cause of the complaint before treating the condition with the right medication.

Eye Disorders to Watch Out For

One of the more common eye disorders to affect birds is conjunctivitis and it's typically caused by a bacterial infection. A bird's eyes become red and swollen which can then lead to photo-sensitivity which is a painful condition that's exacerbated by light. However, conjunctivitis can also be a symptom of a few other health issues where birds are concerned. This includes when they suffer from any sort of respiratory infection. Other eye disorders that affect birds include the following:


Another very painful condition, uveitis affects the inner areas of the eye making them inflamed and sore. It's typically associated with other health issues namely any internal diseases that may be present. To avoid cataracts from forming, the condition needs to be caught and treated as early as possible or it could lead to other complications.


It is usually due to a deficiency of Vitamin E that birds develop cataracts although it could also be due to an infection. Sometimes when birds are exposed to artificial light for long periods, this too can be the cause cataracts to develop which is why it is essential for the right type of lighting be fitted in an aviary and which suit the species of birds kept in it.

Marek's Disease

Caused by a viral infection, Marek's disease is a particularly nasty condition and sadly once a bird is infected with the virus, they cannot be cured. However, the good news is there is a vaccination against Marek's disease which you should ask your vet about. Marek's affects a bird's eyes in many ways causing irregular shaped pupils and iris problems which can then develop into cancer.

Avian Pox

This is another viral infection which sees blisters forming on a bird's eyelids which become swollen and sore. Birds partially lose their sight when they suffer from the condition but the eyeball itself is not affected. The good news is their vision does return once the bird has been treated with the right medication and this needs to be done as soon as a bird has been diagnosed with the condition.

The Causes of Eye Disorders

The majority of eye disorders seen in birds are typically caused by some sort of bacterial infection – salmonella being one which can trigger conjunctivitis and ophthalmitis. This is another nasty conditions where eyes become inflamed with pus forming in the conjunctiva and eyeball and if left untreated can lead to blindness. On top of this salmonella is very contagious which means it can spread genetically from a parent bird to their young though the yolk.

Eye disorders can be caused by fungal infections too and which can be triggered if a bird is fed mouldy food. One of the most common fungi is Aspergillus which affects their respiratory system and affect the bird's eyes and brain function. The signs to watch out for which could indicate a bird is infected are yellow plaques forming under their eyelids which become very swollen and painful. Should the condition be left untreated, the infection will cause serious damage to a bird's eyes and sight.

Birds are delicate creatures and need to be fed a well balanced diet that contains all the right vitamins they need to remain healthy. If a diet is deficient in Vitamin E, a parent bird may well hatch out a blind chick. Vitamin A is needed so birds develop the correct eye pigmentation and lacrimation. The only way to avoid any such deficiencies is to feed birds a well balanced and nutritious diet to suit their species.

Treatment of Eye Disorders

As soon as you notice any sort of problem with a bird's eyes, you should take them to the vet so a correct diagnosis can be made earlier rather than later. The symptoms to watch out for include the following:

Closed eyes

Swelling of eye areas

Red and inflammation


Avoiding light – photo-sensitivity

Once a diagnosis has been made, the vet would then prescribe the right treatment to suit the condition which may include antibiotic eye drops along with other medication. The key to successfully treating eye disorders commonly seen in birds, is to recognise there is a problem early so that treatment can be started as soon as possible.

Can Eye Disorders be Prevented?

Keeping a bird's environment as clean as possible and ensuring they are being fed a well balanced diet that contains all the right vitamins, can help reduce the chances of any eye disorders developing. You should never feed a bird any old food that may be mouldy either. However, there are certain eye disorders that will develop no matter how careful you are with your birds and as previously mentioned, the earlier a condition is treated the better. Not only would your bird not have to suffer the discomfort of an eye infection getting progressively worse but early veterinary intervention will reduce the risk of any permanent damage being done to their eyes.

Enjoy the colourful plumage to your birds even though you know they are seeing more colours more intensely than you can.