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Wondering if there is any evidence that mammals or birds eyes can detect light emitted in the infra-red? The reason I'm asking relates to the use of nest cameras to detect predators, using infra red LED light to take pictures at night. New technology allows a picture to be taken every 3 seconds, throughout the night. Clearly if these can be seen - then a mammal, or nocturnal bird could quickly learn to look for the flashes of light and find a tasty source of food...

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    $\begingroup$ they can detect it sure, just like we can feel heat from sunlight on our skin. $\endgroup$ – John Jun 28 at 12:56
  • $\begingroup$ Pit vipers do but not using their eyes and they are not mammals or birds. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jun 28 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ physics.stackexchange.com/questions/147746/… $\endgroup$ – com.prehensible Jul 28 at 17:35
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Infrared is a fairly large part of the electromagnetic spectrum, so to get an answer best suited to your specific case, you should specify the wavelength of your LED. There is at least one study showing that ferrets (not sure if it's the best predator to worry about for what I assume is a suspended bird's nest) can see up to 920nm.

So to answer your question, yes, at least some can, but the further into the spectrum you go, the fewer there will be.

I am much less certain, however, that this would attract danger. Nocturnal predators in biomes inhabited by humans generally evolve to avoid rather than seek out artificial light sources.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you so much TheChymera. The camera LED's are in the 950-970 nm range - so looks very likely they will be out of range of mammals... and hopefully birds too, although I'm not aware of any evidence here - just seems likely. $\endgroup$ – Damon Bridge Jul 8 at 9:12

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