Bald Eagle Vision


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Eagle Eyes!

Eagles can identify five distinctly colored squirrels and locate their prey even if hidden.


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Eagle weight varies: a small eagle could weigh grams 1. An eagle's retina allows for a higher Nyquist limit. In the eagle, the retina's fovea has one million cells per mm 2 as compared to , per mm 2 in humans. Eagles have a second fovea and three eyelids two of which are visible. The phenomenon of an eagle turning its flexible head almost degrees, [3] while sitting or flying, is attributed to the fact that when its large head is turned fully its eyes are also turned, unlike a human.

An eagle in flight can reputedly sight a rabbit two miles away.

As they grow older, the refraction error naturally rectifies itself and they are able to spot fish below the surface. The fierce look of the eagle is due to the placement of a bony ridge above its eyes, the small amount of bare skin between its eyes, and its sharp beak. The feathers on its body generally do not grow over the eyes.

The eyeball is so large and so tightly fit that the eagle can barely turn it within the socket.

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The eagle's brain figures out where the fish is even though refraction of light at the water's surface makes the fish appear to be in a slightly different place. National Science Education Standards. Bald Eagle. This refraction can make it hard for eagles to know exactly where the fish are in the water.

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Their eyes don't seem to have any adaptations to correct for refraction, but their brains do! The first fish young eagles successfully catch are often dead ones floating right on the surface of the water. They miss live prey a lot when they're first learning to fish. Fortunately, with experience they slowly learn how to correct for refraction. We don't know what the eagle's name is. Eagle Face Human Face The eagle has a little bit of bare skin between its eyes and its beak, and a bony ridge above its eyes.

That bony ridge makes its face appear fierce to us. Look at Tommy's eyebrows, and feel above your own eye.

Why Bald Eagles Have Such Great Vision

You have a bony ridge above your eyes, too, but in most people it's not quite as noticeable as on an eagle, and certainly doesn't make Tommy look fierce! Eyelids Tommy's and the eagle's eyes are wide open! Like you, Tommy has a big top eyelid with long eyelashes, and a small bottom eyelid with shorter eyelashes. His lids open and close from top to bottom, but not from side to side.

Eagles and other birds have 3 eyelids! The outside two are the ones we usually see. On eagles the bottom eyelid is bigger than the top eyelid, so they blink up instead of down. Birds also have an inner eyelid, called a nictitating membrane. This eyelid is transparent, and sweeps across the eye from side to side. It grows in the inner corner of the eye, right next to the tear duct.

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Look in your partner's eye or in a mirror and see if you can see a tiny hole in both the upper and the lower eyelids, right in the inner corner of your eye. These are tear ducts.


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Can you see tissue in the corner of your eye that is related to a bird's nictitating membrane? Journaling Question Why do you think birds have a nictitating membrane? Tears Did you know that your tear glands are always making tears, even when you're not sad or peeling onions? Tears help to keep the eye moist, and have a special chemical called a lysozyme that kills bacteria, protecting the eyes from infection. Birds have tear glands that secrete watery tears like ours, and birds that spend a lot of time in the ocean have another, special kind of gland that secretes oily tears too, to protect the eyes against salt water.


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Eagles have these glands, but they're smaller and not as important for eagles as they are for cormorants and other ocean birds. Eye color The tiny speck of white in the center of Tommy's eye is just a reflection from the flash when the picture was taken. Tommy's irises are so dark brown that it's hard to see his pupils in this photo.

Bald Eagle

The eagle's irises are pale yellow. The white part of Tommy's eye, which isn't a seeing part of the eye at all, is called the sclera. This eagle's eye also has a sclera, but it's hidden under the eyelid. Eye shape If there were no skin to hide them, all eyes would appear bigger and round from the front. But both humans and birds have skin covering part of the eye. The eyelid openings for human eyes are oval-shaped. The eyelid openings for bird eyes are round.

Journaling Question Why do humans need oval-shaped eyelid openings to see well?

Facts About Eagle Eyesight: What Is Eagle Vision And How Do Hawkeye See?

Why do birds need round-shaped ones? Eagle eye Human eye This diagram of an eagle eye and a human eye shows them as cross-sections, as if looking down on them from above the head. Look at your own eye in a mirror or look at one of your classmate's eyes. Try this! Click on the diagram of the human eye so you can see the large, labeled picture, and compare it to your eye or a classmate's eye. Which of the labeled parts can you actually see on a real eye? Which layers of the eye does light pass through to reach the retina?

Why does the pupil of a real eye look so black? Link to answer. If your class ever has an opportunity to dissect an animal fetal pig, frog, cat, pigeon, or something else make sure you get a good look at the eye! Iris: an open and shut case Your iris and a Bald Eagle's iris may be different colors, but they have the same job: to control the amount of light that shines onto your retina.

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There are two kinds of muscles in the iris. Circular muscles encircle the iris close to the pupil, and straight muscles radiate out like rays of the sun. When the inner, circular ones contract, the iris gets bigger, making the pupil smaller.

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