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Blink ... the third eyelid. by Trish Meyer

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Backyard Macro and Closeups … October 2011
The World As We See It , or as we missed it … March 2012

Photographed at my home at Denhams Beach on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia.

Birds have three eyelids. The upper and lower eyelids have small bristle feathers that resemble eyelashes. Most birds only close their eyelids during sleep, and use the third eyelid alone for blinking. The third eyelid, the Nictitating Membrane, lies beneath the eyelids on the side of eye closest to the nostril. It darts across the eye about 30-35 times per minute in the domestic fowl, and also moves across the eye if an object approaches the eye suddenly or if something touches the head.

The third eyelid becomes scooplike and sweeps excess fluid in to the corner of the eye where it drains. In most birds, the Nictitating Membrane is transparent, so vision is not impaired when the eyelid blinks, which is important since so many birds are prey animals. It helps to be able to see when blinking! It is suspected that some birds may fly with the third eyelid covering the cornea of the eye, which prevents it from drying out during flight, acting like birdy goggles.


Eyes wide open

Source : Avian Anatomy

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australian, avian, bird, native, red wattlebird

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australian, avian, bird, native, red wattlebird

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Comments

  • Trish Meyer
    Trish Meyerabout 3 years ago

    The story behind these images … THUMP ! … the sickening sound of a bird hitting a window … I went to investigate and found the Red Wattlebird sitting on the deck rather dazed. So of course I got my camera.
    When I first saw what I now know to be the third eyelid, I thought the eye had glazed over and the bird had a serious head injury. But as I continued to watch, it recovered, first jumping on to a bar of the outdoor swing where it sat a few moments longer before venturing to the railings of the deck and then on to a tree.
    Information on the third eyelid in the full description.

  • Guendalyn
    Guendalynabout 3 years ago

    Stunning!

  • Grazie Guendalyn !

    – Trish Meyer

  • Michael John
    Michael Johnabout 3 years ago

    That is a bit creepy…..but a fantastic capture anyway!

  • Michael, it is a bit creepy looking … thanks for your fantastic comments !
    I have been watching these birds for about 10 years, but have never before been close enough to see this apparently common occurrence !

    – Trish Meyer

  • Larry Trupp
    Larry Truppabout 3 years ago

    Lovely capture

  • Thank you for accepting this image Larry and for your lovely comments !

    – Trish Meyer

  • Bob Wall
    Bob Wallabout 3 years ago

    Looks weird, but I learned something new today. Cool.

  • It does look a bit weird Bob … thanks for commenting !
    I have been watching these birds for about 10 years, but have never before been close enough to see this apparently common occurrence !

    – Trish Meyer

  • Gary Kelly
    Gary Kellyabout 3 years ago

    If I’m not mistaken, crocs do something similar with their eyelids. Anyway, it’s all rather fascinating, Trish, but I can’t help wondering what your husband says when he realizes you’ve been studying him for long periods.

  • You are quite right Gary … and I have learned that many other animals including dogs (!) have them !
    Thanks for your interesting comments :)

    – Trish Meyer

  • Donna Keevers Driver
    Donna Keevers ...about 3 years ago

    wow! Interesting. I never knew that… Glad to hear this fella’s ok.

    Fabulous shot!

  • Donna, thanks so much for your fabulous comments and fave ! It was good to see it fly off :)
    I have been watching these birds for about 10 years, but have never before been close enough to see this apparently common occurrence !

    – Trish Meyer

  • Michael Matthews
    Michael Matthewsabout 3 years ago

    Spooky but fascinating. Nice shot Trish.

  • I agree it is a bit spooky looking Michael … thank you for commenting !
    I have been watching these birds for about 10 years, but have never before been close enough to see this apparently common occurrence !

    – Trish Meyer

  • Rosalie Scanlon
    Rosalie Scanlonabout 3 years ago

    Interesting information and a great capture. Glad the bird is ok.

  • Thanks very much Rosalie ! I learned quite a bit I didn’t know before about Avian Anatomy.
    I’m glad the bird is o.k. too :)

    – Trish Meyer

  • Debbie Robbins
    Debbie Robbinsabout 3 years ago

    spectacular catch Trish!!!

  • Debbie, thank you so much for your spectacular comment and fave !

    – Trish Meyer

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