7 Amazing Birds with Big Eyes [And Other Peculiar Bird Eye Facts]

big eyed birds

When you think of birds with big eyes, owls definitely stand out as having some of the biggest eyes around, but did you know that all birds have big eyes?

Relative to the size of their heads and bodies, all birds have big eyes

There are a few birds that really do have big eyes, such as ostriches, which have about the same size as ours, some with eyes as much as double the size.

Other birds’ eyes just look massive proportionate to their small heads and bodies. 

Let’s take a closer look at some birds with very large eyes and reveal the bird with the biggest eyes of all.

Here’s 7 fascinating birds with big eyes you will want to know!

7 Amazing Big Eyed Birds

1. Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Once in danger from extinction, these stunning birds have big beautiful black eyes, which look even bigger due to the yellow, leathery textured eye ring surrounding the black eyes.

Peregrines are known for being incredibly fast, reaching diving speeds of up to 240 miles per hour – some even say 260!

2. Rock Kestrel

Rock Kestrel

This bird is probably one of the cutest predatory birds on this planet, and its giant eyes and small body definitely make it even cuter.

Like the Peregrine falcon, the Rock Kestrel has large black eyes, surrounded by a mustard yellow eye ring. 

3. Philippine Eagle

Philippine Eagle

The Philippine eagle is one of the largest eagles in the world (up to 1 meter/3 feet tall), and is known to catch monkeys. 

Being such a huge bird, you would expect it to have enormous eyes and you’d be correct in your assumption. In this case big, bird means big eyes. 

With big pale blue eyes, the Philippine eagle has a piercing gaze accentuated by a creamy-brown crown of feathers.  

It’s a spectacular looking bird, so it’s no surprise that it’s also the national bird of the Philippines.

4. Spotted Thick Knee

Spotted Thick Knee

You can easily spot these massive bright yellow eyes from a distance, but beware – you may end up in a staring competition you can’t win!

Something about this skinny legged, enormous eyed bird is incredibly charming – possibly its clumsy, knock kneed gate (walk), surely a direct cause of those thick knees.

5. Potoo Bird

Potoo Bird

Probably the oddest looking bird on this list of our big eyed feathery friends, the Potoo birds’  face consists pretty much just of its bulging yellow eyes, leaving very little space for its toad-like beak

With eyes this size, you could attract some unwanted attention – hence them having odd slits on their eyelids, which allow them to sense movement when their eyes are closed

A creepy skill to match a ghostly, but adorable looking bird. 

6. Owls


We can all agree that all owls appear to have massive eyes, especially candidates like the great horned owl, spotted eagle owl, bar owl, long-eared owl and short-eared owl. 

Although an owls’ eyes may appear round, they actually do not have eyeballs. Instead, they have eye-tubes which can’t move around like eyeballs do. 

That’s why owls, and other birds, have to move their heads when they want to look around – luckily owls can turn their heads 270 degrees!

7. Common Ostrich

Common Ostrich

Most eagles and owls have eyes about the same size as ours. Ostrich eyes are roughly two times bigger than human eyes, giving them the title of the biggest eyed bird. 

In fact, the ostrich holds the Guinness world record for having the largest eye of any land animal – larger than a horse, a moose and even its own brain, which is the size of a walnut. 

We’ve established that all birds have big eyes, some bigger than others, and if an owls’ cylinder shaped eye tubes are anything to go by, it’s like they work differently to our eyes as well.

How Do Birds See?

Birds see by light entering the eye through the cornea and passing through the lens – same as humans. 

The difference is that birds can contract and relax the muscles along the cornea and the lens, and use both to focus. We can only use our lenses to focus.

Raptors’ (birds of prey) eyes are situated towards the front of the head and give the bird binocular vision allowing them to focus on singular objects. 

Other birds have eyes situated on the sides of their head so they can scan two areas at the same time – this is known as monocular vision.

Does Big Eyes Help Birds See Further?

Big eyes, which are commonly found in birds of prey such as owls and raptors, contain more photoreceptors. 

This allows the birds to identify images at longer distances and in darker settings. 

For example, eagles can see almost 8 times as far as humans, being able to identify objects up to 2 miles away

That said, it’s not only large eyed birds of  prey that can see long distances.

Ostriches have the largest eyes in the bird world, and can see approximately the same distance as eagles, and as we know, ostriches are not birds of prey.

Hummingbirds, on the other hand, have tiny eyes, and with those tiny eyes, comes a lack of vision.
Although hummingbirds have incredibly sharp vision and focus, they can’t see much further than ¾ of a mile away.

Why Do Birds Have Big Eyes?

Bigger eyes, mean a bigger picture and larger pupils mean more light entering the eye for better vision. Quite simply, big eyes equal better eyesight.

Birds have a limited sense of taste and smell, so they rely on their big, well sighted eyes to navigate their environment, find food and avoid predators. 

Birds have excellent eyesight. As mentioned above, all birds have big eyes, and big eyes mean better vision in general. 

As a general rule, animals with bigger eyes can see better, and this is no different when it comes to birds.

Bigger eyes, and larger pupils allow more light to enter the optic nerve (the channel between our, and birds eyes and brain).

The more light, the better one can see, providing they have enough cones and rods to support the images.

Birds, like humans, have rods and cones that respond to light. But birds have many, many more rods and cones than humans.

Some birds have a focussing power almost ten times that of a human and raptors (eagles, ospreys, falcons, hawks, kites and owls) are all known for having excellent vision for hunting.

6 Interesting Facts About Birds and Their Eyes

Still want to know more about our feathery friends and their giant eyes? Here’s a few interesting facts that you’ll probably love.

  1. Baby killdeer hatch with their eyes open.
  2. Sometimes animals, including birds, have a facial pattern that makes it difficult to notice the eyes.
  3. Most birds don’t blink.
  4. Birds have better vision than people.
  5. Birds have a third eyelid known as the translucent nictitating membrane.
  6. Bird eyes are mostly immovable .

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