Visual attention plays a fundamental role in avian flight but attention is likely limited whenever birds blink. Because blinks are necessary to maintaining proper vision, we tested the hypothesis that birds strategically inhibit their blinks in flight. The blinks of captive great-tailed grackles (Quiscalus mexicanus) were recorded before, during and after they flew a short distance in an open environment. The grackles spent the least amount of time blinking in flight (take-off, during flight and landing) and the most amount of time blinking at impact. Their blinking behaviour was similar before and after flight. These results suggest that grackles strategically inhibit their blinking behaviour in flight, potentially because blinks impose costs to avian flight.
Press: GeoBeats NY Times