Small eyespots on butterflies have long been thought to deflect attacks and birds are presumptive drivers selecting for these patterns. However, evidence of this function is still ambiguous. Marginal eyespots typically consist of a UV-reflective white pupil, surrounded by one black and one yellowish ring. We have recently shown that blue tits attack such eyespots, but only under low light intensities with accentuated UV-levels. An increased salience of the eyespots relative to the rest of the butterfly probably explains this result. Possibly, a background against which the butterfly is concealed may deceive birds to making similar errors. We therefore presented speckled wood butterflies provided with eyespots (or controls without eyespots) to blue tits against two backgrounds, oak- and birch bark. Results show that (i) eyespots, independent of background, were effective in deflecting attacks, (ii) the time elapsed between a bird’s landing and attack was interactively dependent on background and whether the butterfly bore an eyespot and (iii) the speed at which a butterfly was attacked predicted the outcome, with faster birds being more prone to errors than slower birds. This underscores a speed-accuracy tradeoff in the predators and that background plays a role in the defensive qualities of marginal eyespots.