Saturday, February 12, 2011

Red Eye Champions-Nocturnal Animals

Animals that are active primarily at night have eyes that are highly adapted with many more visual receptors than our human eyes.  Each receptor requires lots of fresh oxygenated blood to keep it healthy and functioning.

All that fresh oxygenated blood is what makes eyes look red in a camera flash, and nocturnal animals win the prize for the reddest "Red Eye."

This Barred owl was at Springbrook's feeders looking for prey, using its very healthy eyes to search.  I wonder if this is where the term "with blood in his eye" comes from? 
This rabbit was eating at the same feeders a few days ago, but not at the same time.  It's eyes are even bigger than the owl's eyes, and one of the blood veins within the eye can even be seen in this photo. 

In the end, for nocturnal animals, the one with the best red eye wins all the marbles, and the loser is not in the gene pool any longer.

1 comment:

  1. Treeclimber... with all due respect, your post here is a bit misleading and inaccurate... while searching for more information about adaptations of nocturnal animals, I stumbed on your post. Your post implies that it is receptors and blood that make the eye reflect red... and while the eye probably is much healthier with oxygen rich blood, the tapetum lucidum is actually what reflects light back (as in your photos). The reflection can be green, yellow, blue, etc... not just red. I only point this out because as an educator, it's important to make sure that we are providing the most accurate information available, especially on the internet. To a ten year old doing a research project or science fair, etc. this information would be extremely misleading. "All that fresh oxygenated blood is what makes eyes look red in a camera flash" is completely inaccurate.