Birds Have Bionic Vision

Birds have the ability to sense the Earth’s magnetic field, and now scientists believe that they may actually “see” it with their eyes. According to a study posted on PLoS, a molecule known to be in birds’ eyes that is sensitive to magnetic fields is directly linked to a part of birds’ brains where visual information is processed.

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I see London. I see France…

As the study puts it, “In garden warblers, Sylvia borin, the cryptochrome-expressing retinal ganglion cells and a neuronal cluster located in posterolateral regions of both forebrain hemispheres (“Cluster N”) show high, sensory-driven neuronal activity as indicated by the expression of the Immediate Early Gene ZENK during magnetic orientation [12]-[14]…”

Ok, we have no idea what that sentence means, but the point of the study is that birds can see magnetic fields…or….something.

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Two, well trained (and armed) special forces members as seen through the eyes of a bird in a South American jungle.

At any rate, the study sheds light on how migratory birds can consistently find their way across large distances, through all different weather conditions, year after year, without any electronic equipment. Scientists are speculating that the birds can align themselves with a magnetic compass that is actually in their field of vision. How they manage to so accurately crap on our heads, however, remains a mystery.


  1. #1 Homie Bear
    September 28, 2007

    I want one of those molecules in my eye!

  2. #2 John McKay
    September 28, 2007

    Does it make the bionic noise like Steve Austin’s eyes did?

  3. #3 Aditya
    September 29, 2007

    I really enjoy reading Zooillogix. Please do post more often!

    Talking about birds crapping on our heads, one managed to do it when I was running in a 100m sprint. To think of the probability of parabolically moving crap falling on a linearly moving tuft of hair is simply beyond me.

  4. #4 AP
    September 30, 2007

    Aditya, that you’re moving doesn’t matter unless the bird was aiming for you. And even then, modulo wind resistance, all the bird has to do is match your velocity and bombs away.

  5. #5 Tender
    October 12, 2007

    I enjoy reading Zooillogix also. It’ll be great to do such kind of posts more often!

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