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By Sarah Wilson & Brian Kilcommons
Parade Magazine, October 2006

Are humans the best at seeing in color? For the best sight, we need a bird's-eye view. Some birds have at least four types of color receptors. "We can't possibly imagine how incredibly colorful the world is to birds' eyes," says Scott Lanyon, professor of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. "For every color that we perceive, birds can see multiple distinct colors. Relative to birds, we humans are all color-blind."

Birds can see
UV light-

a trait that improves
a chick's chance
of survival.

A bird also can see ultraviolet light, which appears to have evolutionary implications. For example, when a starling parent brings food back to its young, nested in a dark tree, those hungry babies reflect UV to the adult from their skin and gaping mouths. The healthiest and largest baby reflects the most light. Generally, that one gets fed first and most. So when a starling mom tells you how "bright" her child is, she really means it!

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