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The Eagle Eye

The secret to the exceptional vision lies in the retina

The eye of an eagle is one of the most sensitive of any animal, and may weigh more than the eagle's brain. The secret to the exceptional vision lies in its retina. The density of rods and cones within a raptor's eye may be five times that of a human's. As the Golden Eagle rides hot-air thermals high into the air, it can spot even the slightest movement of its favorite prey, a rabbit, over a mile away. Learn more about this far-seeing raptor at Cornell's AllAboutBirds.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

The Eagle Eye

Written by Adam Sedgley

This is BirdNote.

[Ambient prairie sounds of Eastern Washington – with call of Golden Eagle]

Ever used the term “eagle eye”? The eye of an eagle is one of the most sensitive in the animal kingdom, and its size can cause it to weigh more than the eagle’s brain. The secret to the bird’s exceptional vision is the density of visual cells, the rods and cones of its retina. 

Look at the back of your hand: your rods register the overall shape, the cones register de-tails such as contour and color. The density of rods and cones within a raptor’s eye may be five times more than in your own eye. 

[Repeat call of Golden Eagle]

So when hunting in open country, the Golden Eagle uses its seven-foot wingspan to ride thermals high into the air. There, it spots the minute movement of its favorite prey, a rabbit, over a mile away. That's like you driving at forty miles an hour, and being able to look back to where you were when this BirdNote started and see a jack rabbit. 

[Repeat call of Golden Eagle]

So the next time you give the “eagle eye” to a raptor, chances are, it saw you first.

[Repeat call of Golden Eagle]

Go eye to eye with a Golden Eagle, when you visit our website, BirdNote.org. I'm Mi-chael Stein.

###

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Call of Golden Eagle [4160] recorded by A.L. Priori

Ambient track recorded by C. Peterson

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Dominic Black

© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org     November 2014    Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#111505GOEA   sight-02b

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