Wild Turkey Vision: The Facts You Need To Know

Most birds have little or no sense of smell, but they are counterbalanced with extraordinary eyesight.

First, birds have all three-cone classes that humans possess for full color vision. However, birds see more detail than we do. Their eyes have the capability to see the finest detail that can be detected. Birds see sharper than we do, and, having no UV filter in their eyes, they are also sensitive to all the UV and short Blue colors that the deer see.

Wild Turkey also have some rods for limited night vision, similar to how human eyes do, but theirs are unhindered by a UV filter. Many possess a 4th cone with peak sensitivity in the UV region and sensitive to below 300 nm. (A study conducted in 1997 presents behavioral confirmation of the UV capabilities that are suggested by physical structures and electroretinogram.)

This 4th cone, combined with oil droplets in the eye, allows all Birds  to read scattering patterns to determine where the sun is on a cloudy day. Migrating birds may use this capability for navigation, and it certainly enables them to see the effects of UV brighteners.

Except for blue and Ultraviolet, wild turkey and also all Game Birds see colors quite similar to how we see them. Humans can match longer wavelength camo colors (green, yellow, orange, brown, and red) to the area hunted and birds perceive the same measures of what is conspicuous and what blends in.

A significant difference would occur, however, in the seeing of Ultraviolet and short blue. If UV brighteners are present the bird will see them (bright bluish white just as deer do) while we humans will be completely unaware of them. Duck, Dove, and Goose hunters will be more successful if UV brighteners are not present on their camo, blinds, or decoys.

More information on wild game vision is available at ATSKO.com.

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