By Lillian Hanson, Student Intern
Have you ever wondered how animals see the world? Do they see in color? Can they see at night? Can they detect motion (especially helpful to know if you find yourself at Jurassic Park)? Animal eyesight is a fascinating subject and one we will explore in depth in later blog posts, but today we're focusing on chicken eyesight.
Chickens have exceptional eyesight but their eyes don’t have the ability to focus on objects and stabilize images when they are moving, like when they walk or fly. Although chickens cannot fly more than a few feet in the air, most birds also rely on this characteristic to help them fly. It's been reported that chickens can see more colors than humans!
Like songbirds and other birds, chickens cannot move their eyes to look at things, and therefore must move their entire heads to look at something. Try moving your head while reading this sentence - you can still focus on the words and continue to read but a (literate) chicken could not!
The star of our video, Phyllis, is a Polish hen and one of several rescued chickens living at West Place. She has what's called a crest on her head, which makes her very popular with visitors. However, her crest also makes it hard for her to see well in general but you can see around the 0:30 mark in the video how moving your finger in a line towards her stationary head can hypnotize her. This works on other game birds too!
You'll often notice a chicken (or any bird) tilting their head to the side and looking upright. This is how they scan the sky for aerial predators. Their left eye is farsighted, while their right eye is nearsighted, which allows chickens stay alert for predators from a distance and still find food to eat. At West Place, our birds have volunteers to help with predator checks but chickens can detect the tiniest of movements, which helps to keep them safe.
This is just a glimpse into the incredible world of chickens, but leave a comment with other topics you'd like to see in future blog posts!
You can sponsor Phyllis, or any of the chickens at West Place, for just $20/month. Your sponsorship covers the cost of grain, corn for foot health, monthly deworming and treats in addition to medications and vet visits.