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Eye-tracking cameras show peahens' wandering gaze

Female birds not so riveted by suitors' fancy feathers

WATCHING YOU  A peahen wears eye-tracking gear customized for birds. The helmet-mounted cameras and a data-transmitting backpack give the first glimpse of how much attention a female bird gives to a male’s magnificent train display.

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When a peacock fans out the iridescent splendor of his train, more than half the time the peahen he’s displaying for isn’t even looking at him. That’s the finding of the first eye-tracking study of birds.

In more than 200 short clips recorded by eye-tracking cameras, four peahens spent less than one-third of the time actually looking directly at a displaying peacock, says evolutionary biologist Jessica Yorzinski of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.

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