A golden eagle is tasked with finding her handler 1.5 miles away, putting her keen eyesight to the test.
How Sharp are an Eagle's Eyes?
Published: May 14, 2020
Onscreen: How sharp are eagle eyes?
Lloyd Buck: I’m intrigued to learn more about just how good her eyesight is.
Graham Martin: Okay. Well, I think we can set something up; a sort of game of hide and seek, perhaps?
Narrator: Tilly must find Lloyd somewhere in this landscape. Her cage has been covered, so she can’t cheat. Lloyd has found a position one and a half miles away, on the other side of the glen, and weather conditions are not ideal.
Buck: It’s a long way. I cannot see you without a pair of binoculars. And even with the binoculars, there’s that much moisture in the air. So, let’s see what she does now. This is the big test.
Martin: Okay, then. Well, I’ll release her now. Okay.
Buck: Okay, good luck. Come on Tilly. Come on, Tills.
Martin: She’s off. She’s looking very hard. I’m sure she’s trying to find you.
Narrator: Tilly has never faced a challenge like this, but she appears to spot Lloyd almost immediately and makes her way to the other side of the glen.
Buck: Come on, Tilly. Come on. [Laughs.]
Narrator: Tilly takes an indirect route, riding a series of strong air currents to reach Lloyd more efficiently and much faster.
Buck: She’s coming in. She’s coming in fast. Woo hoo! She’s done it, Graham. Absolutely hammering across the valley. Woo hoo! What a bird she is.
You clever bird. Woo hoo! What an eagle you are, hey? Hello!
Graham, she’s on my arm. That is absolutely incredible. I’m so pleased with her. I’ve never asked her to find me like that.
Martin: That is actually very, very impressive, because it took really very little time at all.
Narrator: Much like a human’s eye, images are projected onto the retina at the back of the eagle’s eye. This area is covered with light-sensitive cells known as cones. The more cones, the sharper the eyesight. A human eye may have 200,000 cones per square millimeter, but eagles can have over twice as many, giving them the sharpest eyesight of any vertebrate animal.
Produced and Directed by: Simon Baxter
Edited by: Tim Lasseter
Digital Production: Angelica Coleman
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