Visual fields in woodcocks Scolopax rusticola (Scolopacidae; Charadriiformes)

Abstract

Woodcocks, Scolopax rusticola, are long-billed terrestrial wading birds (Scolopacidae; Charadriiformes) which forage primarily by probing in soft substrates for invertebrates. Visual field topography in restrained alert birds was investigated using an ophthalmoscopic reflex technique.

  1. 1.

    Eye movements of significant amplitude are absent.

  2. 2.

    The retinal binocular field is long and narrow. It extends through 190° in the median sagittal plane. When the head adopts a normal posture (bill at an angle of 40° below the horizontal) the binocular field stretches from 25° above the bill to 5° above the horizontal behind the head. Thus, woodcocks have comprehensive visual coverage of the hemisphere above them but the bill falls outside the visual field. Maximum binocular field width equals 12° and occurs perpendicular to the line of the bill. To the rear of the head binocular field width is less than 5° except in an area 40° above the horizontal where it increases to 7°.

  3. 3.

    Monocular retinal fields in the horizontal plane are 182° wide. There is no blind sector at the margin of the optical fields.

  4. 4.

    The general structure of woodcock skulls facilitates panoramic vision in a horizontal plane.

  5. 5.

    Interspecific comparisons are consistent with the hypothesis that visual field topography among birds is closely associated with the role of vision in foraging. Comprehensive visual coverage of the celestial hemisphere probably occurs only in species, such as woodcocks, which rely primarily upon senses other than vision to guide foraging.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Berkhoudt H (1980) The morphology and distribution of cutaneous mechanoreceptors (Herbst and Grandry corpuscles) in bill and tongue of the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos L). Netherl J Zool 30:1–34

    Google Scholar 

  2. Burton PJK (1974) Feeding and the feeding apparatus in waders. British Museum, London

    Google Scholar 

  3. Cramp S, Simmons KEL (eds) (1983) The birds of the Western Palaearctic, Vol. 3. Oxford Univ Press, Oxford, pp 444–457

    Google Scholar 

  4. Gerritsen AFC, van Heezik YM, Swennen C (1983) Chemoreception in two further Calidris species (C. maritima and C. canutus) with a comparison of the relative importance of chemoreception during foraging in Calidris species. Netherl J Zool 33:485–496

    Google Scholar 

  5. Gottschaldt K-M (1985) Structure and function of avian somatosensory receptors. In: King AS, McLelland J (eds) Form and function in birds, vol 3. Academic Press, New York London, pp 375–461

    Google Scholar 

  6. Hancock J, Kushlan J (1984) The Herons Handbook. Croom Helm, London

    Google Scholar 

  7. Hayman P, Marchant J, Prater AJ (1986) Shorebirds: an identification guide to the waders of the world. Croom Helm, Beckenham

    Google Scholar 

  8. Hughes A (1977) The topography of vision in mammals of contrasting life style: comparative optics and retinal organisation. In: Crescitelli F (ed) Handbook of sensory physiology, vol VII/5. Springer, Heidelberg Berlin New York, pp 613–756

    Google Scholar 

  9. Katzir G, Intrator N (1987) Striking of underwater prey by a reef heron, Egretta gularis schistacea. J Comp Physiol A 160:517–523

    Google Scholar 

  10. King AS, McLelland J (1984) Birds — their structure and function. Baillière Tindall, Eastbourne

    Google Scholar 

  11. Kühne R, Lewis B (1985) External and middle ears. In: King AS, McLelland J (eds) Form and function in birds, vol 3. Academic Press, New York London, pp 227–271

    Google Scholar 

  12. Lotem A, Schechtman E, Katzir G (1991) Capture of submerged prey by little egrets, Egretta garzetta garzetta: strike depth, strike angle and the problem of light refraction. Anim Behav 42:341–346

    Google Scholar 

  13. McFadden SA, Reymond L (1985) A further look at the binocular visual field of the pigeon (Columba livia). Vision Res 25:1741–1746

    Google Scholar 

  14. Martin GR (1984) The visual fields of the tawny owl (Strix aluco). Vision Res 24:1739–1751

    Google Scholar 

  15. Martin GR (1986a) The eye of a passeriform bird, the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris): eye movement amplitude, visual fields and schematic optics. J Comp Physiol A 159:545–557

    Google Scholar 

  16. Martin GR (1986b) Total panoramic vision in the mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos. Vision Res 26:1301–1305

    Google Scholar 

  17. Martin GR (1986c) Sensory capacities and the nocturnal habit in owls. Ibis 128:266–277

    Google Scholar 

  18. Martin GR (1990) Birds by night. Poyser, London

    Google Scholar 

  19. Martin GR (1994) Form and function in the optical structure of bird eyes. In: Green P, Davies M (eds) Perception and motor control in birds. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York (in press)

    Google Scholar 

  20. Martin GR, Brooke M (1991) The eye of a procellariiform seabird, the Manx shearwater, Puffinus puffinus: visual fields and optical structure. Brain Behav Evol 37:65–78

    Google Scholar 

  21. Martin GR, Katzir G (1994) Visual fields and eye movements in herons (Ardeidae), Brain Behav Evol (in press)

  22. Martin GR, Young SR (1983) The retinal binocular field of the pigeon (Columba livia): English racing homer. Vision Res 23:911–915

    Google Scholar 

  23. Martin GR, Young SR (1984) The eye of the Humboldt penguin Spheniscus humboldti: visual fields and schematic optics. Proc R Soc Lond B 223:197–222

    Google Scholar 

  24. Sheldon WG (1967) The book of the American woodcock. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst

    Google Scholar 

  25. Steinbach MJ, Money KE (1973) Eye movements of the owl. Vision Res 13:889–891

    Google Scholar 

  26. Steinbach MJ, Angus RG, Money KE (1974) Torsional eye movements of the owl. Vision Res 14:745–746

    Google Scholar 

  27. Tansley K (1965) Vision in vertebrates. Chapman and Hall, London

    Google Scholar 

  28. Van Heezik YM, Gerritsen AEC, Swennen C (1983) The influence of chemoreception on the foraging behaviour of two species of sandpiper, Calidris alba and Calidris alpina. Netherl J Sea Res 17:47–56

    Google Scholar 

  29. Voisin C (1991) The herons of Europe. Poyser, London

    Google Scholar 

  30. Walls GL (1942) The vertebrate eye and its adaptive radiation. Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

    Google Scholar 

  31. Welty JC, Baptista L (1988) The life of birds. 4th edn. Saunders, Philadelphia

    Google Scholar 

  32. Zweers GA, Wouterlodd FG (1973) Functional anatomy of the feeding apparatus of the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos). Proc 3rd Eur Anat Congr Manchester: 88–89

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Martin, G.R. Visual fields in woodcocks Scolopax rusticola (Scolopacidae; Charadriiformes). J Comp Physiol A 174, 787–793 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00192728

Download citation

Key words

  • Aves
  • Vision
  • Scolopax
  • Visual field
  • Binocular vision