If you’ve paid close attention to your chicken’s eyes, you may have noticed something unusual…
Their eyelids don’t move, yet they are able to keep their eyes clean of debris and dirt.
So, do chickens blink? Can they move their eyelids? How do they keep their eyes clean?
These are all interesting questions, and I have answers to explain each of them!
Do Chickens Blink?
Technically speaking, chickens do not blink – no.
So, don’t go trying to win a staring contest anytime soon.
A blink is defined as; to shut and open the eyes quickly. Chickens do not open and close their eyelids quickly, so they do not blink.
The main reason why we blink is to keep our eyes clean and safe from dirt and debris and to spread oils and mucous secretions across the surface of our eyes.
Chickens also need a way to keep their eyes clean and protected, and they can do this without blinking as I’ll explain…
Related – Do chickens have eyelashes?
The Anatomy of a Chicken’s Eye
Chickens have a third eyelid, also called a translucent nictitating membrane.
Most birds have this, as do a lot of other pets like cats. They use their third eyelid as a way to clean their eyes, much like we do with our eyelids.
When not being used, their third eyelid is tucked away in the corner of their eye. When needed, it quickly slips out to wipe the surface of their eye and does back out of sight again.
Let’s remember that they can’t use their fingers or hands to help wipe anything from their eyes. They need something more effective than eyelids to clean their eyes, that’s why they have a third eyelid.
You’ll see exactly what I mean if you watch the video below. It shows a chicken’s third eyelid
Do Chickens Have Eyelids?
Chickens do have eyelids, yes. They just don’t use them like we do to blink, and do not open and close them.
They do close their eyelids when they’re sleeping though.
Do Chickens Close Their Eyes When They Sleep?
This is where it gets really interesting because chickens are actually able to be both awake and asleep at the same time.
The left side of a chicken’s brain controls their right eye. While the right side of their brain controls their left eye. Meaning they are able to operate each eye independently.
So, if you’ve ever seen one of your flock with one eye open and one closed, they are actually trying to get some sleep while keeping an eye out (literally!).
The reason they are able to do this is to be able to keep an eye open for possible threats in the wild.
While roosting, the chicken at the top of the pecking order will sleep in the middle of the roost with both eyes closed getting some quality sleep. While chickens on the edges of the perch will have one eye open to keep watch for threats.
Their third eyelid will cover the surface of their eye, and it’s more so their lower eyelid that closes when they’ve shut their eye.
So, the answer to the question of whether or not chickens blink is, no. They don’t blink, at least not in the same way we do, neither do they need to.
Chickens can’t move their upper and lower eyelids like we can. Instead, they have a third eyelid that appears to wipe their eyes clean (as shown in the video above).
It’s just another of the many interesting and weird chicken facts that we often don’t think about until we take a detailed look.
Enjoyed this article? Check out do chickens have eyebrows to find out more interesting facts about a chicken’s anatomy!
Image credits – Header image by William Moreland, rooster eye image by Martin Jaroš on Unsplash