Do Birds See Straight Ahead Or To The Side?

birds see

Is he looking at me?

Do you know if birds see straight ahead even if their eyes are located on the sides of their head?  Read the surprising answer here.

We recently got a pet bird and I have been having a hard time telling if the bird is looking at me or not.  Sometimes the bird looks at me straight on and I am sure it is looking at me.  Then it will turn its head to the side and I only see the one eye.  It still feels like it is looking at me, but how can that be?

birds see

Notice the eyes are on the sides of its head.

For Many Birds, Eyes Are Located On Sides Of Their Bill

Many animals, including birds have eyes that are located in the middle of their heads.  But, since their faces are not flat their eyes seem to be more on the sides of their head.  The animals that have eyes like this tend to have a wider field of view than those with a flat face.  The benefit of this wider field of vision is that it helps the detect predators.

The downside to eyes like this is that they lose depth perception.  In contrast predators, and many raptors (eagles, hawks) have a flatter face with eyes that focus straight ahead.  This helps them find prey.

birds see

Photo via Flickr.

Do Birds See Straight Ahead Or To The Side?

Interestingly, the answer is yes.

Birds can see both straight ahead and to the side.  Similar to people, birds have a  focal point of something that they look at straight ahead.  This allows them to look at something in front of them with both of their eyes at the same time.  This vision with two eyes is called binocular vision.

However, birds also have the ability to focus on something that is directly to their side.  They can focus on something that is to their side and focus on it with just one eye at a time.  This is called monocular vision.

Birds See Things To The Side And Straight Ahead

As surprising as it may be, birds can look straight ahead and to the side at the same time.  They have both monocular and binocular vision.

This gives the birds an advantage because they are able to see a large field of vision.  But, it does make it hard for me to know if the bird is looking at me or not.