Raptor Fun Facts: Ultraviolet Sensors

21 June 2017
American Kestrel. Photo by Nikki Wayment American Kestrel. Photo by Nikki Wayment

Sponsored by

MMS Logo


Did you know that some species of raptor can see ultraviolet light?  This is helpful because small mammals such as voles and mice mark their tracks with urine, and urine is a substance that reflects ultraviolet light.  Because of this, some raptors are able to see the ultraviolet urine trail of their prey, helping them to find a food source.  Studies have shown that American Kestrels and Rough-legged Hawks are very adept at this, but it is unknown if every raptor species sees this "prey trail," and it might be inaccurate to assume so since all birds are adapted to hunt and find food differently.  So, when birders talk about the amazing eyesight of a raptor, now you can add this element of their vision to the conversation.

Want to learn more about birds of prey?  Check out our Raptor ID Fact Sheets for more information. 

Raptor Fun Facts are sponsored by Mark Miller Subaru. HawkWatch International is proud to be Mark Miller Subaru's #SubaruLovesTheEarth partner.