Apparently birds which appear identical to the human eye can look quite distinct under UV light. Additionally, drab looking birds might have more "spectacular" looking plumage when considering wavelengths outside of the visual spectrum.

Question: In the specific case of crows, (1) can crows see in the ultraviolet range? (2) is the plumage of crows still monochrome when considered in the UV spectrum? Is it dichromatic?

Google seems to return very little about this, although this random person claims that crows can see in UV and their plumage does not monochromatic under UV, while this article says they can not see in ultraviolet. Neither provides citations for their claims, and I am not familiar with the academic literature on this subject. Any help would be appreciated.

This question seems related inasmuch as crows seem black to the human eye. However, I know that some animals can see in UV, and am curious about whether this extends to crows.


Corvids (and raptors) are reported to not see UV Håstad et. al. 2005.

However, American crows are reported to recognize sex-specific differences in plumage that are invisible to humans Eaton 2006.

Unfortunately, I don't have access the latter paper so I don't know what the basis for that discrimination is or how to reconcile that result with those of Håstad et. al.

You might also find this well referenced blog post that summarizes these results to be of interest.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you so much! Sorry for not checking sooner for answers. This is very helpful -- I really appreciate you sharing your expertise! $\endgroup$ Jun 28 '19 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ You're very welcome — glad I could be of some help! $\endgroup$
    – tyersome
    Jun 28 '19 at 20:58

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