A songbird strategically modifies its blinking behavior when viewing human faces Academic Article uri icon


  • Even though blinking is necessary to maintain clear vision in many species, blinking is likely costly because it temporarily impairs vision. Given this cost, individuals can strategically modify their blinking behavior to minimize information loss. We tested whether a songbird species modifies its blinking behavior when viewing potential threats (human faces). We recorded the blinking behavior of captive great-tailed grackles (Quiscalus mexicanus) before, during, and after they viewed human face stimuli or control stimuli (tree bark as well as scrambled versions of human faces and tree bark). We found that the birds inhibited their blinking behavior the most when viewing human faces versus controls. In addition, they inhibited their blinking behavior more when viewing human faces that were directed rather than averted. Furthermore, when viewing the human faces, their blinking behavior was modified based on reactivity. These results suggest that a songbird can strategically modify its blinking behavior based on its perceived level of risk.

author list (cited authors)

  • Yorzinski, J. L., Walker, M. K., & Cavalier, R.

publication date

  • January 1, 2021 11:11 AM