Birds are some of the most colourful animals on the planet and they use colour signals to select mates, avoid toxic food items, locate camouflaged prey and recognise conspecifics. Compared with humans, who have three spectral sensitivities and a limited visible range between 400 and 670nm, birds have and a fourth spectral sensitivity and a visible spectrum which extends into the ultraviolet. This fourth sensitivity is theorized to allow birds to detect many more colours than are discriminable to humans and may allow them to see covert colour signals invisible to us. However, research examining this behaviourally is limited. The anatomy and physiology of animal eyes can provide clues to the potential colour vision capacity of other species, but, ultimately behavioural experiments are necessary. Therefore, in this project you will use innovative UV-LED screens, and Ishihara-style behavioural experiments, both recently developed in our lab, to examine bird colour vision throughout their visible spectrum- including the perception of ultraviolet light.  This project will use captive finches, budgerigars or chicks and will be conducted in collaboration Professor Justin Marshall and with Professor Daniel Osorio and Professor Tom Baden at The University of Sussex in the UK.

Supervisor: Dr Karen Cheney and Dr Naomi Green