How fast can raptors see?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Birds, and especially raptors, are highly visual animals. Some of them have the highest spatial resolving power known in the animal kingdom, allowing prey detection at distance. While many raptors visually track fast-moving and manoeuvrable prey, requiring high temporal resolution, this aspect of their visual system has never been studied before. In this study, we estimated how fast raptors can see, by measuring the flicker fusion frequency of three species with different lifestyles. We found that flicker fusion frequency differed among species, being at least 129 Hz in the peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus, 102 Hz in the saker falcon, Falco cherrug, and 81 Hz in the Harris's hawk, Parabuteo unicinctus We suggest a potential link between fast vision and hunting strategy, with high temporal resolution in the fast-flying falcons that chase fast-moving, manoeuvrable prey and a lower resolution in the Harris's hawk, which flies more slowly and targets slower prey.


External organisations
  • Lund University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Zoology


  • Falcon, Flicker fusion frequency, Hawk, Raptor, Temporal resolution, Vision
Original languageEnglish
Article numberjeb209031
JournalThe Journal of experimental biology
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jan 2
Publication categoryResearch