Can birds see colours?

This week I had an interesting question from a reader: Can birds see colours?

She also asked what colour flowers birds are most attracted to. This is a fascinating topic, one I am far from qualified to answer in full.

Yes birds can see colours – in fact, they can see colours far more intensely than humans. Scientists have only recently discovered the vast range of colours that birds can see, and most are completely beyond what humans can see or imagine. The reason for this is that humans have three cone cells in the retina while birds have four cones. In real terms, one could say that humans are virtually “colour blind” compared to birds.

For a good discussion on this topic go here:

As far as what colour flowers birds are most attracted to, there is no simple answer. In my very limited understanding of the topic, birds are attracted more to the ultraviolet patterns on flowers rather than the colour that we see in our limited range of perception.

This is a vast and interesting topic. Thanks to Emilie for asking the question.

Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow Lorikeet