Deakin University

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Do European starlings prefer light environments containing UV?

journal contribution
posted on 2002-12-01, 00:00 authored by V Greenwood, E Smith, I Cuthill, Andy Bennett, A Goldsmith, R Griffiths
Many captive birds are kept in artificial lighting that is typically deficient in ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths. Most birds can perceive the range of light that humans see but also have an additional retinal cone type that is tuned to UV wavelengths. Consequently, artificial lighting may be detrimental as it might limit the functionality of their vision. We examined the preferences of European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris, for various artificial light environments. In our first experiment, groups of starlings showed a preference for environments that contained UV (UV+) over those where UV wavelengths had been removed (UV -). This preference was not affected by the sex of the individuals within the group or, as shown in a later experiment, by whether the birds had been previously housed in UV+ or UV - conditions. In contrast, individual starlings showed no preference for UV+ over UV - environments, although the power of our test was low. In a subsequent experiment, starling groups preferred the higher of two light intensities that were presented; however, equalizing the overall quantal flux between UV+ and UV - extinguished any preference for UV+ over UV -. The group preference for UV+ conditions in the first experiment may therefore have resulted from a preference for brighter conditions rather than a specific preference for UV. However, equalizing the quantal flux may not equalize perceived brightness, because it is not known how birds' visual systems weight input from each cone type. We conclude that, for nonbreeding, group-housed captive starlings, there is no positive evidence of a preference for the presence of UV as a specific wavelength. (C) 2002 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.



Animal behaviour






923 - 928




London, England







Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2002, The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.