Are Ducks Colorblind? Duck Vision vs. Human Vision Explained 2023

Ducks are from the family Anatidae that has been on Earth before the pre-historic period. These aquatic birds are generally found near ponds, lakes, rivers, and seas. Also, ducks’ vision is different from humans’. So, are ducks colorblind, or can they see more colors than us?

The answer is: Ducks are not colorblind. They can see colors more vibrantly than humans. They are tetrachromatic and can perceive reds, greens, yellows, blues, and ultraviolet much better than us. Also, ducks can distinguish thousands of color shades that are even invisible to a human eye.

They have excellent vision allows them to notice two to three times farther than humans. Like every bird, ducks are also primarily dependent on their vision.

Therefore, in this post, we will discuss more on Ducks’ Vision and how do they see the world. So, without any further delay. Let’s begin.  

Are Ducks colorblind? Duck Vision

Ducks can see and recognize more colors than humans. They are tetrachromatic; it means the cones in their eyes can perceive ultraviolet, blue, green, and red colors from wavelength 300 nm to 700 nm. On the other hand, humans are trichromatic, meaning our cones are sensitive only to blue, green, and red colors from 380 nm to 750 nm.

Ducks can perceive a more comprehensive range of electromagnetic spectrum as compared to humans’ visible spectrum. Additionally, their eyesight is more sensitive towards red, green, yellow, and blue colors.

It represents that they can see dazzling shades of these colors. Below we have inserted an image showing the absorption of the different colors in ducks’ eyes.

what colors do birds see
Ducks see colors at different wavelengths

The image demonstrates that ducks absorb blue, green, and red colors best at 445, 508, and 565 nm, whereas the human eye perceives colors best at 424, 530, and 560 nm. In this way, you can imagine how differently ducks can see the exact color compared to us.  

Additional knowledge- There are more than 167 species of ducks.

Do Ducks have good eyesight?

Ducks have excellent eyesight during the day. Their eyes are more sensitive to light and have more cones than rods, permitting them to perceive millions of color variations.

Ducks have a different eye mechanism where many powerful muscles control the curvature of their corneas and lenses. It enables them to see at a greater distance clearly. According to Ducks Unlimited, ducks can see three times farther than humans.

Not only this, the eyes of ducks comprise various sensitive cones that grant them superiority in color sensing capability over human vision. They carry on various day-to-day activities through their sharp vision like finding food, searching for mates, etc.

Human Vision vs Duck Vision
Human Color Vision vs Duck Color Vision

In a nutshell, ducks and geese can sense the environment twelve times better than humans during daylight.

However, ducks cannot see clearly at night because they have very few rods in their eyes compared to nocturnal birds. Still, they perceive the environment much better than humans in the dark.

Apart from their vision, they have other sensing abilities like beak sensitivity that allows them to navigate in low-light situations. Later in this post, we have discussed ducks’ vision at night in detail.

Can Ducks see color? (What colors do ducks see)

Ducks have a vast number of cones in their eyes through which they can see thousands of color shades, including ultraviolet light. Their eyes sense ultraviolet, blue, green, yellow, and red colors vibrantly during daytime.

Ducks’ vision is more titled towards blue-violet and green colors, whereas human vision is more focused on red-orange colors. Also, they have the ability to filter out specific colors to attain greater sensitivity selectively. As compared to humans, they see colors differently.

Ducks Color Vision
Ducks Color Vision (What colors do Ducks see)

For Example, Ducks see red, green, and blue colors with more brightness in contrasting shades. Also, they cannot see black color; they can sense and detect it as a dark gray shade. In addition, they witness orange color in an obscure shape not as bright as we do.

However, in the dark, they don’t have the ability to detect any color except ultraviolet rays.   

Additional knowledge- Ducks like the green color the most.

Can Ducks see in the dark? Duck Night Vision

Duck cannot visually discern in the dark but can sense their environment through various abilities. They don’t have a special thin membrane in their eyes called tapetum lucidum that assists them in seeing in the dark. Therefore, they use beak sensitivity to search for their food at night.  

Ducks’ beak is covered with susceptible skin through which they can feel things, similar to our hands. In this way, they don’t need their eyes to sense their food.

Ducks are generally diurnal but can change to nocturnal depending on geographical and weather conditions. Also, it can be seen that ducks usually migrate at night from one place to another, where their senses mainly guide them.

Most of the time, ducks love to sleep and take during the night. The nighttime is the ideal time for them to slow their senses and relax. But it doesn’t mean that at night they are easy to catch.

Even in sleep, they are in the firm of intermittent alertness, and like other birds, they rest one side of their brain at one time. In this way, they can sense any predatory and react quickly. 

How do Ducks see humans?

Ducks see humans the same as we see but with more color shades. They are tetrachromats and discern us with colors along with ultraviolet light. It means their vision comprises more blue-violet hues rather than red-orange like ours.

Ducks can also recognize their owners through their vision and beak. It is witnessed that they show too much affection to their caretakers in the form of a cuddle or pet. 

In contrast, they also express their anger to other people. In brief, ducks can see and distinguish humans from other living beings.

However, the only catch is detailing. Their vision has slightly less detailing and sharpness as compared to humans. We see the world with more sharpness and clarity; however, among birds, only eagles have more sharp eyes than us.   

Must Read- Can Eagles see in the Dark? Eagle Vision

How do Ducks see the world?

Ducks see the world predominately in blue-violet and green colors. They are monocular and have a wide range of vision that empowers them to perceive a vast area at one time.

Their eyes focus on area rather than depth and focus. Humans have binocular vision. It means our eyesight has depth, and we can focus on a particular entity simultaneously. In conclusion, ducks are not colorblind. They perceive colors better than us and see the world in different shades. 

Duck Vision vs Human Vision

Duck Vision Human Vision
Have tetrachromatic vision Have trichromatic vision
Can see ultraviolet rays Cannot see ultraviolet rays
Are monocular Are binocular
Cannot see clearly in the dark Cannot see clearly in the dark

Here, we have discussed “Are Ducks colorblind,” along with other relevant queries on their eyesight. We will be back with another post. Till then, stay tuned with us and read the articles below.


About Ducks by Ducks Unlimited

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