Why does that matter (and why do I care)? Jem, a Fugitive from London, includes scenes where more than one bird carries a human passenger. I wanted to know what the passenger would see if she were--wait for it--winging it. What would a human see from a bird's-eye view?
She'd see other birds' feathers glowing. Urine trails left by small mammals, glowing. Patches on potential mates glowing, the bigger the patch, the more attractive the mate. Some birds lay their eggs in another species' nest and expect the foster parents to raise their young. But the victims of nest parasites sometimes can tell which eggs are theirs and which were laid by interlopers because the shells glow differently--so the potential adoptive parents can push out the offender's eggs.
Ever watch a parent bird feed a chick? Ever wonder how the parent knew which chick hadn't been fed on the last trip back to the nest with a tidbit? Turns out the chicks' beaks and feathers glow brighter if they're heavier and healthier--so mommy and daddy bird know which chick needs a snack RIGHT NOW.
And speaking of snacks: certain insects glow. Seeds glow. Green leaves do not, so birds more easily can find berries--which DO glow--hidden amongst them.
Why can't we see UV light but birds can? According to the article, "The human retina has three kinds of cone cells (receptors used for color vision): red, green and blue. By contrast, birds active during the day have four kinds, including one that’s specifically sensitive to UV wavelengths. There’s another difference: In birds, each cone cell contains a tiny drop of colored oil that human cells lack. The oil drop functions much like a filter on a camera lens."
You can't make an omelet without cracking a few eggs, and you can't write a book without learning fascinating stuff.