BirdBeSafe: Scientific Study Explains Why Bright Colors on Cats is for the Birds

A study back in 2015 apparently proved that color-vision prey (birds and reptiles) survive more easily when their predators wear bright colors (e.g. putting a large vivid safety color collar on a cat).

Source: “Birds be safe: Can a novel cat collar reduce avian mortality by domestic cats (Felis catus)?” Global Ecology and Conservation, Volume 3, January 2015, Pages 359-366

A second study then confirmed the findings about avian color perception.

Bird vision on the right. Source: Photography of the Invisible World, Dr. Klaus Schmitt

The concept of prey safety through color vision has an intriguing twist: predators struggle to learn and implement effective countermeasures. While a cat is known to overcome and bypass a jingle bell, it is currently believed that cats have not yet figured out this particular challenge of being made more visible.

Such reliability makes me think how avian (and lizard) vision research could help a subtle shift in communication dynamics, reminiscent of the impact from infrared vision technology advancements. Drawing inspiration from birds (and lizards), goggles could bring humans into light spectrums we usually miss.

Source: “What Birds See” by Timothy H. Goldsmith, Scientific American, 2006

Think of signals using patterns and colors visible only with avian (and lizard) lenses. With potential applications in many forms of observation, such lenses could subtly alter communications. Embracing nuances of avian (and lizard) perception, this technology offers a neutral, practical approach to broad ranges of signaling including threat differentiation, opening up possibilities for those tuned into the secrets of the natural world.

Source: U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence, 1918

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