Thursday, February 2, 2012

Birds Eye View

This past December, I was fortunate to have my first Snowy Owl sighting. Due to the recent Snowy Owl irruption, several of these stunning raptors have been spotted along the Lake Michigan shoreline of Chicago. While viewing the owl, I was captivated by the downy white feathers flecked with dark brown and the impressive wingspan, but what captured my attention most were the owls mesmerizing yellow eyes. The brilliant color resembling that of ripe lemons.

This encounter gave rise to thoughts about the various colors of avian eyes. The color portion of the eye is called the iris. Eye colors range from deep brown to metallic gold and silver, with a rainbow of colors including bright red, yellow, blue and green found within the spectrum. In several species, the color of the iris changes as the bird matures. Eye color also differs between the sexes in some.

This post features several photographs of birds which I find to have particularly interesting or beautiful eyes.
Adult Yellow-crowned Night Herons have deep orange to ruby red eyes
Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron
The stunning brilliant red eye of a male Wood Duck
The bright yellow eyes of a Green Heron stand out against the iridescent blue green facial feathers
Great Blue Herons have yellow eyes with distinctive black pupils
~ Great Blue Heron ~
Notice the filmy look of the herons eye in this image and compare it to the previous photograph of the same heron. This translucent tissue or "third eyelid" is called the nictitating membrane. It is used to protect, moisten and clean the eye.
The beautiful pastel blue eyes of a White Ibis 
Adult Ospreys have piercing yellow eyes
This Horned Grebe sports interesting scarlet red eyes and lovely breeding plumage
Adult Black-crowned Night Herons have striking blood red eyes
Juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons have rich yellow or amber eyes
The marble-like turquoise eyes of a Double-crested Cormorant
The warm golden eyes of male Hooded Mergansers are quite captivating
Vibrant red eyes enhance the beauty of this colorful male Cinnamon Teal
The magnetic yellow eyes of a Snowy Owl


  1. The eyes have it! A lovely collection of beautifully colored eyes Julie, well done. Congrats on the Snowy Owl, I am still waiting to see and photograph one.

  2. ...beautiful photos. I love studying birds' eyes too! I especially loved the eye your captured in your photo of the Yellow-crowned Night Heron...gorgeous!

    1. This is my absolute favorite, too! Great photo!

  3. As ever, Julie, captivating photos and beautifully written prose. What an inspiring theme -- eye color -- and you demonstrate it with such stunning photos. A wonderful piece to read and ponder. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Wonderful photos. Love the emphasis on the birds' eyes!

  5. I love your posts. They are always so creative and informative. I'm learning a lot from your work. Very interesting take. Thank you!

  6. Great photos and awesome post! That grebe is mind blowing!

  7. Stunning images and cool theme for a post. Nice work Julie!

  8. Julie, what an amazing collection of photos. I thought your post was really interesting. Something we tend to take for granted at times.

  9. Stunning photos Julie!!! Great close up views of the Yellow-crowned Night Herons. Great theme!

  10. I can't believe I haven't been here before and seen these; such fabulous bird photographs

  11. Stunning photos Julie. There no greater variation and beauty in the animal kingdom than in the eyes of our winged subjects.

  12. Stunning photos Julie, you really captured so many wonderful shots. Love them.

  13. A very gracious thank you for all the nice comments. I am very appreciative!

  14. Wonderful post! I've often noticed the lovely eye colors of the birds but you've got some fabulous shots illustrating them! Well done!

  15. Great post, Julie! Gorgeous shots of all the birds and their beautiful eye colors. Congrats on your Snowy owl sighting.

  16. What a wonderful idea for a post! You did a great job and what excellent photography!