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What does a bird see when it looks at another? It looks something like what we see, except that the bird can see down into the ultraviolet spectrum and it may see the polarized light signature reflecting from the birds plumage. This study investigated the presence of polarization on a number of types of plumage. Found was consistent polarization seen on black plumage throughout five different species, strong polarization on the red feathers of Ara macao, highly angle and texture dependent polarization of structural colors, and unreduced polarization of purple iridescent feathers. Together these findings detail that plumage has polarization properties, and some plumages more than others. These results are significant and important to science as polarized light is a visual cue present in bird vision, that has now been proven to be an integral part of their plumage coloration. Therefore, when discussing and investigating bird behavior, particularly communication, camouflage, or prey identification, the presence of polarized light may be affecting the decisions made by birds. Each of the many ways in which polarized light may impact the life of birds need to be studied, as if polarized light even plays a small role in any of these activities it means that science has overlooked that section of bird behavioral ecology.
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Yelchin, Isaac A., "Bird Plumage Polarizing Light" (2019). Senior Projects Spring 2019. 67.
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