[CT Birds] Question on Bird Behavior, Frozen Pose

james.bair at snet.net james.bair at snet.net
Tue Apr 3 19:36:35 EDT 2012

Dear Tammy:

You wrote:

As I watched, a look of what can only be described as abject terror spread over the little birds' face: its eyes widened, almost bugging out in a way I've never seen on a bird before. It was facing slightly upward, towards some oaks, and when I followed its gaze, sure enough: there was a hawk perched like a vulture right over the apple tree. The titmouse was out in the wide open, with few options. Another bird distracted the hawk, so the little guy came away unscathed. But it took at least 10 minutes for his eyes to return to normal size.

Animals that are prey usually have eyes on the side of their head. That way they have a 270 degree or more field of view. They do not have binocular vision except for the very front, but it is a tradeoff so they can see all around. Predators (including people) have eyes more forward so that they have better binocular vision to judge distances. I suspect that the Titmouse’s eyes were “bugging out” to keep an eye on the predator above. The bird probably kept looking up for another ten minutes just to make sure that the hawk had truly departed.

Jim Bair

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