How do birds handle bright lights?


I don’t know a lot about birds, but I do know that they generally have better vision than us humans. But… when they fly high, the sunlight must be blinding to them, right? Especially with their heightened sense to lights. Some species of birds even fly above clouds, which must reflect a lot of sunlight too.


I, a human male, can’t even go out in the summer without sunglasses on…

In: 1

They don’t have “better vision” … And “birds” is really vague term describing thousands of different species

But to answer your question… Same way as us humans do… By adjusting eyes to let less light in

Birds, like many other animals, have adaptations that help them handle bright lights. These adaptations allow them to protect their eyes and maintain their vision in various lighting conditions. Some of the ways birds handle bright lights are:
Pupil constriction: Birds can constrict their pupils in response to bright light, similar to humans. This reduces the amount of light entering the eye, protecting the sensitive photoreceptor cells in the retina from overstimulation and potential damage.
Eyelids and nictitating membrane: Birds have a set of upper and lower eyelids that can close to protect the eyes from bright light. They also have a translucent third eyelid called the nictitating membrane, which can be drawn across the eye for additional protection while still allowing some level of vision. This membrane can help protect the eye from dust, debris, and bright light.
Retinal adaptations: The retina of a bird’s eye contains photoreceptor cells called cones and rods. Cones are responsible for color vision and function best in bright light, while rods are more sensitive and work better in low light conditions. Birds have a higher density of cones than rods, allowing them to see more detail and have better color vision during daylight hours. However, some bird species, such as nocturnal birds, have more rods to help them see better in low light conditions.
Head movements and positioning: Birds can also adjust their head position to reduce glare or avoid direct exposure to bright light sources. They may turn their heads away from the light or angle their heads so that the light does not directly enter their eyes.
Ultraviolet (UV) light protection: Some birds have a layer of protective cells in their eyes, called the corneal epithelium, which helps filter out harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight.
It is important to note that, while these adaptations help birds handle bright light, they can still be negatively affected by artificial lights, particularly at night. Artificial lighting can disorient and confuse birds, leading to collisions with buildings and other structures, as well as negatively impacting their behavior and migration patterns.

Most birds are looking *down* at the ground unless they’re doing some aerobatic stuff through buildings and trees and whatnot. The sun’s location and it’s brightness don’t matter a whole lot when you have your eyes below the horizon, even when flying toward the sun.