Are Owls Colorblind? 🦉 (Answered)

Like most birds of prey, owls have keen eyesight. Due to their nocturnal habits, owls have excellent night vision, which is thought to be up to 100 times stronger than a human’s.

Like most birds of prey, owls have keen eyesight. Due to their nocturnal habits, owls have excellent night vision, which is thought to be up to 100 times stronger than a human’s.

But can they perceive in color with such incredible vision? The truth is that owls and the majority of other night birds are color blind. As a result, owls are limited to seeing just hues of grey, black, and white. It does make logic when you give it some serious thought. Given that owls primarily hunt at night, the color vision wouldn’t be of many service to them. When greater light detection would be much more useful, why use up too much space in the eye for color detectors?

This is more than made up for by the owl’s ability to tilt its head virtually upside down and up to 260 degrees left or right from its forward-facing position. The owl skeletal article lists various adaptations that make this possible.

The majority of owls are nocturnal creatures, therefore their eyes must be exceptionally adept at gathering and processing light. The big cornea (the eye’s translucent outer layer) and pupil are the first features (the opening at the center of the eye). The iris regulates the size of the pupil. More light enters the lens and travels to the big retina when the pupil is larger.

There are a lot of rod-shaped, light-sensitive cells in the retina of an owl’s eye, which is why they are termed “rod” cells. These cells are extremely light-sensitive and motion, but they are not very responsive to color. Many owls see in restricted color or monochrome because their eyes have few “cone” cells, which are formed like a cone and do respond to color.

Although owls have exceptional night vision, it is frequently believed that they are blind to bright light. This is untrue since their pupils may be adjusted in a wide range, allowing the proper amount of light to reach the retina. In bright light, certain owl species can see more clearly than people.

What Colors Can Owls See?

The capacity to function in extremely low light levels is a special trait shared by both barn owl eyes and common owl eyes. Owls have much more rods than cones in their eyes, which are light-seeking sensors, in contrast to many other diurnal species like humans and other birds. 

The retinas are also much bigger, allowing for more interaction between the eye and the brain when creating representations of what is viewed. However, contrary to popular belief, owls cannot see in total darkness. It is disputed if they have color vision.

Can Owls See In Color At Night?

For several reasons, owls have excellent night vision. They lose color vision due to having a greater proportion of rods than cones, but they see much better at night. Additionally, because of how big their eyes are, they can take in a lot of light.

The tapetum lucidum, or “mirror,” is found at the rear of owls’ eyes. Light is reflected on the rods when it passes through the rods and strikes the mirror. This implies that the owl has two chances to capture each ray of light. You can tell an animal has a tapetum lucidum when you shine a light at it at night and notice that its eyes appear to glow.

Can Owl See All Colors?

There are a lot of rod-shaped, light-sensitive photoreceptors in the brain of an owl’s eye, which is why they are termed “rod” cells. These cells are extremely sensitive to light and motion, but they are not very responsive to color.

Many owls see in minimal color or monochrome because their eyes have few “cone” cells, which are formed like a cone and do respond to color. Although owls have exceptional night vision, it is frequently believed that they are blind to bright light.

What Animals Cannot See Color?

Scientists at the University of Lund in Sweden have found that the eyes of whales and seals are missing cones. These creatures are therefore color blind. Some stingrays are color blind, although sharks are not. Despite being color blind, cuttlefish can alter their color to hide from predators.