Vision in the peafowl (Aves:Pavo cristatus)

Nathan S. Hart*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

198 Citations (Scopus)


The visual sense of the Indian blue-shouldered peafowl Pavo cristatus was investigated with respect to the spectral absorption characteristics of the retinal photoreceptors, the spectral transmittance of the ocular media and the topographic distribution of cells in the retinal ganglion cell layer. Microspectrophotometry revealed a single class of rod, four spectrally distinct types of single cone and a single class of double cone. In the case of the single cone types, which contained visual pigments with wavelengths of maximum absorbance (λmax) at 424, 458, 505 and 567 nm, spectral filtering by the ocular media and the different cone oil droplets with which each visual pigment is associated gives predicted peak spectral sensitivities of 432, 477, 537 and 605 nm, respectively. Topographic analysis of retinal ganglion cell distribution revealed a large central area of increased cell density (at peak, 35,609 cells mm-2) with a poorly defined visual streak extending nasally. The peafowl has a calculated maximum spatial resolution (visual acuity) in the lateral visual field of 20.6 cycles degrees-1. These properties of the peafowl eye are discussed with respect to its visual ecology and are compared with those of other closely related species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3925-3935
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Avian retina
  • Colour vision
  • Cone oil droplet
  • Ganglion cell topography
  • Microspectrophotometry
  • Ocular media
  • Pavo cristatus
  • Peafowl
  • Photoreceptor
  • Visual ecology
  • Visual pigment


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