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2011 March

Parrot Articles > 2011 March | You are here

2011 March

African Grey Eye Pinning

March 6th, 2011

African Grey Eye

Eye Pinning

Parrots have a fascinating ability to give us a little insight into how they feel at a given moment. This is achieved through a process termed “eye pinning.” The pupils of the parrot’s eyes will dilate to show excitement, or joy, anxiety or fear. It is up to us to understand our feathered friend to learn what he is saying to us, through his expressive eyes.

African Greys and other birds are able to control their irises and you can see their pupils rapidly enlarging and shrinking. Eye pinning goes along with what is happening in the immediate environment and body posture. If your African Grey’s body is relaxed and its eyes are pinning it usually means they are interested in or concentrating on something. However, if your African Grey’s feathers are puffed out and their eyes are narrowed and pinning – watch out! They are angry or frightened, and if bothered will probably bite.

How Their Eyes Help Them

In the visual world, birds are gifted with the greatest acuity, seeing extremely well, even at great distances. As prey animals, parrots have eyes positioned on the sides of their head, providing them with a tremendous range of vision, nearly three hundred and sixty degrees, that they use for both protection and food retrieval. Parrots see in color, helping them discern predator from prey. It is also believed this ability to see in color assists parrots in the mating ritual.

Layers Of A Greys Eye

Layers of the Eye

The avian eye can be described as having three distinct layers. These layers, called ‘coats’ each house specific components of the eye. The outer coat maintains the shape of the eye, protects the eye and is the attachment site for the muscles of the eye. It is called the sclera. Like reptiles, the sclera is protected by the sclera ossicles. The second coat, referred to as the vascular tunic houses the iris, ciliary body and choroid. It is here, within the iris, where the amount of light permitted into the eye is controlled. The innermost layer, or third coat is called the retina. This is where the rods and cones are contained. Unlike mammals, the avian retina contains no blood vessels.

Third Lid

The avian eye is equipped with a third eyelid, or nictictating membrane. Located in the corner of the eye, this retractable lid is a kind of windshield wiper for the eye, allowing the bird to blink, lubricating the eye, without compromising their vision.

Eye Pinning

Simply Amazing

With respect to the size of their head, the avian eye is huge. Anatomically however, each component of the avian eye is not without specific purpose, allowing the parrot to survey his environment, secure a mate, and even express emotion. The parrot eye is truly a fascinating part of the wondrous parrot.

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