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Eagle eyes: Just how good is eagle vision?

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To have an eagle eye is to “see or observe keenly,” but just how well can eagles actually see?

In this BBC Earth video, golden eagle Tilly is joined by ornithologist Professor Graham Martin in a game of hide and seek that will test Tilly’s eyesight. Will she find Lloyd Buck, her caregiver, across the vast landscape?

tilly finds lloyd buck
Dressed in green, Buck blends into his surroundings, but Tilly almost immediately spots him from 2.5 kilometers (1.55 miles) away and quickly flies to him. How does she do it? From Birdnote:

“An eagle’s vision is incredibly sharp, and its eyes can weigh more than its brain. The secret to the bird’s exceptional vision is the density of visual cells, the rods and cones of its retina.

“Rods in the eye register the overall shape of objects, while the cones register details, such as contour and color. The rods and cones in a raptor’s eye may be five times more dense than those in a human eye.”

eagle vision

PODCAST ALERT: BirdNote Daily: The Eagle Eye.

Previously: Tilly the Golden Eagle soars above the Scottish Highlands.

Then watch these related videos:
Take a ride on an eagle’s back over France’s Rhone-Alpes
• An injured bald eagle learns how to fly again
• An Eagle’s Feather, an animation about the mighty Philippine Eagle
• How do your eyes perceive color?
• How do eyes work & how do glasses help us see?

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