I will read the article, but what comes to my mind as I have watched my yard birds for long periods of time is that the birds appear to watch all around them. They turn their heads all around. Now the obvious is that they are scanning for movement. Since I am inside, they cannot hear me.. If I make the slightest movement, one bird will note  it and the whole yard will be full of birds flying for cover.  Additionally, I observed in the field that raising the binoculars spooks birds a lot, with no sound given.  On the other hand, I will frequently speak to birds (not at feeders) and they will not immediately fly.  Jackie Chain has witnessed these brief conversations.  Obviously their communication with each other is very oriented to both vision and sound.   I'm sure you veterens have seen it all.    
   Jane Allen
   St. Louis County

--- On Tue, 3/31/09, Larry Lade <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
From: Larry Lade <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Sensory Perception in Birds
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 7:44 PM

Today I got to wondering about what is a bird's most acute (perhaps, most useful) sensing faculty, that is, what is the main thing it is aware of in its environment. Simply stated, is it more aware of one; visual, auditory, olfactory, movement, vestibular (their orientation), magnetism, etc. or some other stimulus in regards to others (for staying out of harm's way)?

For birders it would be helpful to know which stimulus stimulates the bird the most in making it aware of its surroundings. For example, does a loud noise affect the bird more than sudden movement? We birders could use this knowledge to be less obtrusive in the birds' environment and be able to observe them better. We all know, for example, that we do not slam the car door when exiting for fear of scaring off the birds. We talk in subdued tones and do not make sudden movements. Are there other things we should be more aware of when out birding, so as not to cause the birds to want to flee?

I ran across an article here listing some of the sensory abilities which birds have (seem to have). It was an article written in regard to dealing with bird/aircraft collisions. Knowing the birds abilities to sense danger might determine what step airlines might take to lessen the possibility of bird/plane collisions!

It was an interesting article. There is lot we simple do not know regarding a birds capabilities in the sensory realm. Also, not all birds have the same capabilities.

Do you, from personal experience, believe that any one of the birds' sensory capabilities is more useful to the bird than any of the others? Or perhaps it just uses all of its sensory perceptions at the same time, some being more important at certain times than others?

Larry Lade
Saint Joseph, MO
gcrownkinglet AT yahoo DOT com
The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
List archives: https://po.missouri.edu/archives/mobirds-l.html
The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
List archives: https://po.missouri.edu/archives/mobirds-l.html