During regional patterning of the anterior neural plate a medially positioned domain of cells is specified to adopt retinal identity. These eye field cells remain coherent as they undergo morphogenetic events distinct from other prospective forebrain domains. We show that two branches of the Wnt signaling pathway coordinate cell fate determination with cell behavior during eye field formation. Wnt/beta-catenin signaling antagonizes eye specification through the activity of Wnt8b and Fz8a. In contrast, Wnt-11 and Fz5 promote eye field development, at least in part, through local antagonism of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling. Additionally, Wnt11 regulates the behavior of eye field cells, promoting their cohesion. Together, these results allow us to postulate a model in which Wnt11 and Fz5 signaling promotes early eye development through the coordinated antagonism of signals that suppress retinal identity and promotion of coherence of eye field cells.