University of Birmingham - Uneasy glances over dinner

October 16, 2008

A British wading bird's risky feeding habits have been exposed by researchers at the University of Birmingham. The team from Birmingham's centre for ornithology found that golden plovers have large, bulging eyes anchored to their skull by an outgrowth of bone, allowing them to spot food underwater after dark. Although this allows them to feed efficiently, it also leaves them with a blind spot that makes them particularly vulnerable to attack by predators - an unusual trade-off, as most birds and animals have evolved to balance the two demands simultaneously. Graham Martin, who led the study, said: "We have concluded that the use of vision for activities such as feeding takes clear precedence over predator detection. These birds have a blind area above the head, rendering them very vulnerable to being eaten."

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