Eye size and the time of arrival of birds at garden feeding stations in winter

Ockendon, N., Davis, S.E., Toms, M.P. & Mukherjee, S. (2009)

Robins are early birds thanks to large eyes
Journal of Ornithology 150: 903-908

A nationwide volunteer survey was conducted to investigate the time at which common species of birds arrived at garden feeders in the morning during winter, and over 5,800 participants submitted observations. We examined the relationship between species’ eye size and their time of arrival at feeders, in order to investigate whether the time at which foraging was initiated was constrained by visual capability. There was a negative correlation between eye size and time of arrival at garden feeders across species, and this relationship remained significant when body mass was taken into account. This suggests that the time at which garden birds begin to forage on winter mornings may be limited by their visual capability at low light intensities.

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