Can Pigeons See 360?
Pigeon Vision Explained!

Are pigeons able to see 360 degrees? Does their vision allow them to see in every direction? Read ahead to find out fascinating facts.

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David A. Swanson

June 27, 2021

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What’s This Post About?

Pigeons belong to the Columbidae family. There are several types of pigeons - the most common among them is the Rock dove which is generally known as the pigeon and has an average lifespan of 6 years.

Although in rare cases, researchers have recorded pigeons living for even more extended periods.

People think of pigeons as ordinary birds, but they have many unique characteristics. One of them is that they have an expanded vision of 360 degrees from their viewpoint. 360 view means they can see what is in front and at the back at the same time.

Pigeons are rare in the sense that they have a 360 degrees vision, with a relatively small binocular section in front of their eye. Pigeons processes what it sees faster than humans. Few birds, unlike humans, can move their eyes to see 360 degrees.

pigeon eye close up

Can Pigeons See 360 Degrees?

a pigeon is drinking water

Pigeons have a vertical vision of 135 degrees and a horizontal vision of 340 degrees which helps them to be able to look at the front and back at the same time. Humans, however, have a vertical vision of only 135 degrees and a horizontal vision of 180 degrees.

Did You Know?

Pigeons can with ease distinguish between two different images.

Humans cannot distinguish between similar colors if seen from a distance. However, these birds can accurately see objects and differentiate between them even if they are at a great distance.

All About Pigeon’s Vision!

Pigeons have a vision of 360 degrees which means that they can look at things in front and behind them simultaneously without having to tilt or move their head.

They are also able to see at night because of their high sensitivity towards light, and multiple studies by ornithologists have reported that pigeons have a better vision than humans.

Fun Fact

Pigeons can recognize all 26 alphabets of the English language.

Additionally, they can also detect polarized light (light waves that move in a single direction) and see ultraviolet light, which is not visible to humans as humans can only see the seven colors within the light spectrum.

a flock of pigeons flying

Given the kind of perception humans have regarding pigeons, it is hard for most people to believe that they have such unique characteristics.

Another unique feature of pigeons is their binocular vision, which assists them in search and rescue missions.

couple of pigeons sitting

How Good Is Their Eyesight?

Pigeons have superior eyesight compared to humans. They can see ultra-violet light, which humans can not see. Pigeons can also concentrate on immobile objects without any difficulties, unlike humans.

a pigeon is sitting on the bark of a tree

Did You Know?

These intellectual birds can also hear sounds at low frequency.

Their eyesight is much better than humans. They can see polarized light and ultra-violet light, both of which are not visible to humans. These intellectual birds can also see at night, just with the help of street lights and moonlight.

If you’re curious about capturing and eating these birds, read our previously posted blog to know whether it is legal or forbidden.

Did You Know?

Pigeons are considered spiritual in some religions.

Do They Lack Depth In Their Perception?

pigeon sitting on a bark

One of the traits of these birds is that they bounce their head quite often. However, the reasoning for this behavior is not known to many.

We have often seen them shaking their heads, and the reasoning that people have come up with, after research and analysis, is that they perform this behavior to balance themselves.

Secondly, this act is done by the pigeons quite often to recoup the lack of depth in their perception. They experience an inability to focus when looking at moving things, so they must keep refocusing on moving objects.

Henceforth, they do lack depth in their perception and are unable to focus quickly on moving objects. Due to this lacking, they constantly have to refocus on moving objects.

Did You Know?

Pigeons are one of the oldest birds to exist.

a pigeon is sitting near the canal

Pigeon’s Eye Structure

Pigeons, just like most birds, have large eyes. However, their eyes are unique in shape with a pair of flat lenses. They have monocular vision, which means that their eyes are on only one side of their head. This gives them an expanded perception which is also more than an owl’s.

The eyes of the majority of pigeons are red or orange. The color is primarily due to genetics, which parent pigeons have passed it down to their offspring.

pigeons eye

The actual eye is not red; instead, the density of the vessels surrounding the iris of the pigeon’s eyeball generates that color, which is usually yellow or white.

Can Pigeons See At Night?

Pigeons have fantastic eyesight; however, the quality of their vision reduces at night. Nonetheless, they can still see at night as their eyes are sensitive to light. With the help of moonlight and city lights, they can navigate at night and find their way back home.

Since people often see them at night, they confuse them as night birds or misinterpret them as nocturnal birds.

two pigeons at night time

However, in reality, they are not nocturnal birds such as nightjars, owls, and nighthawks, but they benefit from having sensitive eyes, which helps them see at night.

Nonetheless, we can safely say that they do not see as well at night as they can do in the day.

Do Pigeons Fly At Night?

pigeons flying at night

Pigeons benefit from having eyes that are sensitive to light, and yet they avoid flying at night. They only fly in the dark when they sense a threat from the environment or if a predator is approaching them.

Moreover, pigeons also fly at night if they are disturbed by the loud music played by humans. They get scared by the noise of music, which eventually forces them to leave their shelter and fly away to another resting spot in the dark at night.

Therefore, yes, they do fly at night but only in situations that are anomalies. The majority of the time, they do not fly in the dark and avoid leaving their shelter unless they feel a threat or disturbance.

Are Pigeons Highly Intelligent?

Pigeons are one of the most intellectual birds; they can recognize humans and distinguish between their faces.

These intelligent birds can also recognize all the alphabets of the English language and have a strong memory, which is why they can remember several images for an extended period.

Studies have tested pigeon’s ability to distinguish between photographs, which showcased that they were successful in all vision tests.

a close up of the pigeons face

Did You Know?

During a study, pigeons were able to differentiate between a Van Gogh and a Chagall painting.

One of the rarest qualities of these birds is that despite how far they wander, they remember the routes to their home.

Since pigeons have a solid memory, they can travel long distances and return to their home location without struggling or getting lost in between.

If you wish to attract these highly intelligent birds, you can install a large pigeon feeder in your backyard.

2 Pack Large Pigeon Feeder

Made of plastic and stainless steel wire, harmless, non-toxic, safe for all birds

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Fun Fact

Pigeons have a powerful memory, this is why they can remember several images for an extended period.

Keep Reading!

Pigeons can look at the front and back simultaneously. This is because they can see 360 degrees. Their vertical vision is 135 degrees, and their horizontal vision is 340 degrees.

They have a broad, binocular-like vision and can also somewhat see at night; this is why their guidance aids in search and rescue missions. These vivid birds can also see ultraviolet and polarized light and differentiate between similar colors, even if seen at a distance.

Are you interested in knowing other fascinating facts about pigeons? Here’s a post you can read to find out whether pigeons can swim or not.

Can Pigeons Swim? Will A Pigeon Die If It Falls On Water?

Are you wondering if pigeons can swim? Or what happens if a pigeon lands on water? Read on to find out interesting facts.

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By David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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David A. Swanson Picture

David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!



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