Do Birds Have Eyelashes and Eyebrows? Everything You Need To Know

Do Birds Have Eyelashes and Eyebrows

Eyelashes are both for us – not only are they a mark of beauty and grace, but they are also a very important defense system for one of our most prized and precious organs, our eyes. 

Eyelashes are our eyes’ first line of defense, protecting them by acting as a filter keeping out stray particles in the air like dust, dirt, lint, and other debris from the soft and delicate tissues of our eyes.

If we humans, who mainly inhabit the ground, need much protection from airborne particles, then the need must be twice as much for birds, right? 

I mean, not only do they spend the majority of their time in the air, but they also do so while zooming back and forth at high speeds, speeds at which tiny debris could potentially create much more damage than otherwise. 

So we must wonder, do birds have eyelashes and eyebrows? Which ones do? Do they function similarly to the eyelashes of humans and mammals? 

Well, you’re in luck because we are about to find out.

Do Birds Have Eyelashes? Which Ones?

Unlike in the case of humans and mammals, eyelashes are a pretty rare feature to spot in a bird. This does not mean there’s none, but when was the last time you felt mesmerized by a pair of bird eyelashes? 

Exactly, they are not the most common sight to see!

While human eyelashes are a modification of our hair that carry out the task of protecting the hair, bird eyelashes are modified feathers. 

Bird eyelashes can be ascribed to the rows of bristles that line and protrude the end of their eyelids. 

It also carries out the similar task of protecting the eyes from debris. Following are a few of the species that have been found to have eyelashes:

Common Ostrich

Do Birds Have Eyelashes and Eyebrows

One common bird known for its human-like eyelashes is the common ostrich or Struthio camelus, a species of flightless bird native to many parts of Africa and is the largest living bird in the world. 

They have long eyelashes that help in preventing sand from getting inside their eyes when their lower lid moves upwards when they close their eyes. 

They are famous for dunking their head in the sand and would have had a horrible time doing that if they have not had this defense mechanism.

Southern Ground Hornbill

The southern ground hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) is a sight to see in all its aspects – from its characteristic red patches that surround its central face to its pronounced eyelashes. 

They rely heavily on their sight and thus have long and thick eyelashes to protect them from dust and sunlight. They carry some seriously stunning lashes that could make some of us green with envy.

Secretary Bird

Maybe one of the most popular birds for its gorgeously unreal eyelashes, the secretary bird or Sagittarius Serpentarius, native to the African continent mainly. 

Although boasting an impressive list of physical traits like its height, stomping power, and walking abilities, what this terrestrial bird is most recognized for is its beautifully elongated eyelashes. 

What we could only hope to achieve with more than a few strokes of the mascara wand, nature has gifted this bird free of cost.

What Do Birds Have Instead? How Do They Protect Their Eyes?

Though the list of birds who have eyelashes is longer than the one above, it is still not much at all. So what do the birds have instead of eyelashes? They do need to protect their eyes somehow right?

For the protection of their eyes, they have a perfectly built system that consists of extra eyelids that act like a built-in goggle. 

So they have the upper and the lower lids just like us, and then an extra eyelid beneath the outer eyelids, which is called the nictitating membrane. 

It comes down like a visor in a car to protect the eyes of the bird from foreign airborne particles.

Do Birds Blink?

Blinking is essential for avoiding irritation in our eyes – it lubricates and makes sure our eye stays nice, clean, and wet. 

Birds though rarely blink, at least rarely in the sense of what we humans describe as blinking – which is the closing of the outer lids. 

There are some species – parrots, owls, ostriches – but those are in the minority.

What birds generally do instead is make use of their third eyelid, called the nictitating membrane which lies beneath the outer lids and performs the function of lubricating and cleaning the eye.

Do Birds Have Eyebrows?

Birds don’t have eyebrows in the human sense of a bunching up of feathers above their eye to keep things from dripping down. 

But they do have quite the distinctive stripe that runs from their beak all the way to the back of their head, and this strip is often referred to as eyebrows. 

Known as the supercilium, this specific pattern of plumage is not found in all birds but in some common species like some robins and babblers.

In Conclusion

We hope we quenched your curiosity on whether birds really have similar eyelashes and eyebrows to us – some do but most rely on the eyelid mechanism nature designed especially for them.

We hope you learned something new today as well.

Thank you for reading!

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