Ultra Violet Tits

Blue Tit - Lago di Alviano - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)
“Hello”

There are Blue Tits galore in the trees in this Italian forest. Their Italian name is Cinciarella, pronounced Chin-char-ella.

Their beaks are so black and shiny they look like graphite pencils:

Blue Tit - Lago di Alviano - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Male and female Blue Tits look identical to humans. Let me rephrase that;  To humans, male and female Blue Tits look identical to each other. To be sure which is which we would have to run molecular tests from samples taken from them, unless we saw the female egg-laying or incubating her clutch of eggs, since males don’t do either of those.

Blue Tit - Lago di Alviano - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

However, Blue Tit males and females only look identical, to us, because we have a limited spectrum of vision. We have three-colour vision, with red, green and blue sensors at the back of our eyes. Birds, however, can see in the near ultra-violet and have four-colour vision. It’s just one of their superpowers.

Male Blue Tits are very much brighter than females in the ultra-violet spectrum, to which we are completely blind. Simple and beautiful sexual selection experiments have shown that females prefer males with brighter UV crests.

Blue Tit - Lago di Alviano - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Who wouldn’t find this little chap simply irresistible?

Blue Tit - Lago di Alviano - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Find the original research hereBlue tits are ultraviolet tits by S. Hunt, A. T. D. Bennett, I. C. Cuthill, and  R. Griffiths. No Tits were harmed in the gaining of this knowledge.

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