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How Golden Eagles Spot Prey from Incredible Distances

Golden Eagle Photo Credit: Jan Wassink

Golden Eagle Photo Credit: Jan Wassink

Ever used the term “eagle eye”? The eye of an eagle is one of the most sensitive in the animal kingdom, and its size can cause it to weigh more than the eagle’s brain. The secret to the bird’s exceptional vision is the density of visual cells, the rods and cones of its retina. Look at the back of your hand: your rods register the overall shape, the cones register details such as contour and color. The density of rods and cones within a raptor’s eye may be five times more than in your own eye.

So when hunting in open country, the Golden Eagle uses its seven-foot wingspan to ride thermals high into the air. There, it spots the minute movement of its favorite prey, a rabbit, over a mile away. That’s like you driving at forty miles an hour, and being able to look back to where you were when your started reading this and see a jack rabbit.

So the next time you give the “eagle eye” to a raptor, chances are, it saw you first.

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