Professor Graham Martin BSc, PhD, DSc

Professor Graham Martin

School of Biosciences
Emeritus Professor, Avian Sensory Science

Contact details

Centre for Ornithology
School of Biosciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Graham Martin is an Ornithologist with an international reputation built upon his research into the sensory worlds of birds. In recent years he has used his expertise to focus on problems concerned with the functions of vision, especially binocular vision, in foraging behaviour, and in understanding why some bird species are particularly vulnerable to collisions with human artefacts, such as wind turbines, power lines and fishing nets.


BSc Human and Physical Sciences, University of Surrey
PhD Psychology, University of Exeter
DSc Biology, University of Birmingham


Professor Graham Martin did graduate work at the University of Exeter into the sensory bases of nocturnal activity in owls. He followed this with Post-Doctoral work at The University of Sussex on the function of coloured oil droplets in the colour vision of pigeons. He took up his first post at the University of Birmingham in 1976 as a lecturer in Biology based in the then Department of Extramural Studies and the then Department of Zoology and Comparative Physiology. He became head of the School of Continuing Studies and held a central University post for regional Development. However, he always based his research in Biosciences.

He moved full time to the School of Biosciences in 2002 where he established the Centre for Ornithology and set up the MSc programme in Ornithology, the only such programme in Europe. His research has been into the senses of birds, mainly their vision and hearing, and has always attempted to understand these from the perspective of understanding how sensory information helps birds to carry out different tasks in different environments. He has published papers on more than 70 species, from Albatrosses and Penguins to Spoonbills and Kiwi. He has collaborated and travelled widely and pondered the diverse sensory challenges that birds face in the conduct of different tasks, especially foraging, in different habitats, from mudflats and murky waters, to forests, deserts, and caves. In recent years he has focused on how understanding bird senses can help to reduce the very high levels of bird deaths that are caused by human artefacts; particularly, wind turbines, power lines, and gill nets.


Research Theme within School of Biosciences: Organisms and Environment

Sensory Ecology of birds, especially the sensory bases of foraging and the reasons why birds are prone to collisions with human artifacts.

Other activities

Chair of the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust.


Recent selected publications:

Martin, G.R. and Banks, A.N. 2023. Marine birds: vision-based wind turbine collision mitigation. Global Ecology and Conservation, Volume 42, page e02386.

Martin, G.R. 2022. Avian Vision. Current Biology, 32, R1079 – R1085.

Martin, G.R. 2022. Vision-Based Design and Deployment Criteria for Power Line Bird Diverters. Birds, 3, 410-422.

Martin, G.R. 2022. Avian Vision. In Sturkie’s Avian Physiology, 7th Edition. Eds. Scanes, C. G. and Dridi, S. Elsevier, in press.

Martin, G. R. 2021. Bird Senses: How and What Birds See, Hear, Smell, Taste, and Feel. Pelagic Publishing, Exeter.

Martin, G.R. and Martin, R.O. 2021 Psittaciformes Sensory Systems. in J. Vonk, T. K. Shackelford (eds.), Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior,    47829-6_1704-1

Field, R., Crawford, R., Enever, R., Lindowski, T. Martin, G.R., Morkunas, R., Rouxel, Y., and Oppel, S. 2019. High contrast panels and lights do not reduce bycatch in Baltic Sea gillnet fisheries. Global Ecology and Conservation, 18 e00602.

Cantlay, J C., Portugal, S.J and Martin, G. R. 2019 Visual fields and foraging ecology of Blacksmith Lapwings Vanellus armatus. Ibis doi 10.1111/ibi.12725.

Martin, G. R. 2018. “The Senses” In Ornithology: Foundation, Critique, and Application. Ed. Morrison, M. L., A. D. Rodewald, G. Voelker, M. R. Colon, and J. F. Prather. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Martin, G. R. 2017 What Drives Bird Vision? Bill Control and Predator Detection Overshadow Flight. Frontiers in Neuroscience 11, 619.

View all publications in research portal