The visual capacities of birds rival even those of primates, and their visual system probably reflects the operation of a ground plan common to all vertebrates. This book provides the first comprehensive and current review of considerable progress made over the past decade in analyzing neural and behavioral mechanisms mediating visually guided behavior in birds.The book's five major sections deal with the visual world of birds, the organization of avian visual systems, the development and plasticity of visual structure and function, visuomotor control mechanisms, and cognitive processes. The introduction to each section discusses the nature and significance of the problem areas, providing a context for the chapters to follow, which review the current status of research on a specific problem. The contributors are an international assemblage of researchers, representing a wide variety of disciplines, ranging from ornithology to neurophysiology and including ethology, experimental psychology, anatomy, and developmental neurobiology.
For the ethologist, avian behavior is the source of a wide variety of species-typical "fixed action patterns"; for the experimental psychologist, birds are the subject of choice for studies of conditioning, learning, and cognitive processes; for the neurobiologist they provide model systems for studying developmental processes, sensory mechanisms, orientation, and motor control. For these reasons, research on the avian brain and behavior occupies an increasingly important place in contemporary behavioral biology.