Do Cockatoos Have Good Eyesight? 7 Facts You Should Know


Do Cockatoos Have Good Eyesight? 7 Facts You Should Know

Cockatoos are amazing birds. They look breathtakingly beautiful and, sometimes, colorful as well. But can they see colors? Also, do cockatoos have good eyesight? Let us explore.

Indeed, cockatoos have good vision. In fact, according to specialists, these birds’ eyesight is superior to that of humans. Meanwhile, one of a cockatoo’s most important senses is sight. It aids in their ability to find other cockatoos, food, and shelter.

The fact that cockatoos can see more images per second than humans adds to their appeal. They can therefore see fast motions more accurately than us.

But have you ever wondered how these birds see or whether they are capable of seeing color? These and other questions are covered in the sections below.

Do cockatoos possess peripheral vision?

While some birds have their eyes in front of their heads, others have them on the sides. The eye position make difference in the field of vision. 

Cockatoos have excellent peripheral vision. Their eyes are on either side of the head, allowing them to see a nearly full circle surrounding them. In other words, unlike humans, who have only 180 degrees of peripheral vision, these birds have a wide field of vision of almost 300 degrees.

The ability to simultaneously see straight ahead and far to the side is a major advantage for cockatoos in the wild. Their vision lets them keep track of their flight path while scanning the area for potential prey or threats.

How do cockatoos see?

Compared to humans and other birds of prey, like owls and hawks, cockatoos have a unique perspective on the world. These birds perceive the world as more open, flat, and sharp. Also, because they have monocular vision, cockatoos have a greater field of view but lack depth.

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Can cockatoos see color?

Humans were unaware of birds’ ability to perceive colors for several years. But thanks to new advancements in ornithology, we now know the reality. 

Cockatoos can see colors. These birds can see colors more vividly than humans, thanks to four light-sensitive pigments, or cones, in their retina. Being tetrachromats, they see four colors: 

  • UV
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Red

Accordingly, ornithologist Joe Smith found that these birds could see a wide range of hues unseen by humans.

Trivia: Every cone in a cockatoo’s eye contains a drop of oil that precisely filters out specific hues, allowing birds to be more sensitive to varied color tints.

Are cockatoos color-blind?

Image Credit: Cockatoo eye by Jason7825 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Cockatoos are not color-blind. In fact, they can see more vibrant hues than humans can.

According to what you have already read, parrots possess four color receptors or cones and see all hues similarly to humans in addition to the UV rays. However, their ability to detect UV light fills their world with a purple hue.

Can cockatoos see in the dark?

Cockatoos are diurnal and can see clearly during the daytime. But what about the nighttime? Can they see in the dark as well?

We won’t say cockatoos can’t see in the dark, but their night vision is limited. The additional cone in the eyes allows them to see more color but prevents them from seeing clearly in low-light circumstances.

To further understand the condition, you should know that diurnal birds’ eyes contain more cones than rods. These enable them to have vibrant hues, but only during the day. The shortage of enough rods prohibits these birds from seeing clearly in the dark.

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However, diurnal birds can see significantly better in the dark than humans.

Note: Nocturnal and diurnal birds have differing vision abilities. The former have more rods in their eyes, which allow them to see clearly in low light.

How far cockatoos can see?

The ability to see is the most important sense for a bird’s survival. How far can cockatoos see, then? Let us find out. 

Cockatoos cannot see too far. This is because they lack an effective depth receptor. In addition, these birds have monocular vision, so each eye is focused on a different target at any given time. This stops them from producing the stereopsis effect that birds of prey do.

Furthermore, the overlap of the visual fields of both eyes in cockatoos is extremely small, making it difficult for them to measure distances effectively.

Are cockatoos susceptible to cataracts? 

Cataract in birds– this sentence might be new to you. But this is a fact. So, let us dig deep to explore whether cockatoos are susceptible to cataracts. 

Cockatoos may have cataracts, just like humans. They may develop this problem due to aging and vitamin deficiencies.

Take your pet cockatoo to the doctor immediately if you find it blinking quickly, has watery eyes, has redness in its eyes, or has a white or grey film covering its pupil.


Therefore, it is acceptable to claim that cockatoos have good vision throughout the day. They have more vibrant color vision than we do. However, because their eyes lack rods, they do not have very good night vision.

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