Eye of the Owl
By Allegra Jacobs, Animal Care Coordinator,
At Woodcock we are very blessed to have two beautiful birds of prey. Click, our Barred Owl, and Hooty, our Great Horned Owl. I’ve also been very blessed to be able to work up closely with them on a daily basis: feeding them, and more recently, practicing their skills out of the cage on the glove. This process is called falconry - very loosely for us, as our birds are disabled and cannot fly to perform the tasks necessary for legitimate falconry work.
Practicing glove work with a raptor is a very intense process. You never really know how intimidating a predator like a large bird can be until they are balanced on your arm. The beak and the talons on both our girls are nothing to bypass. These guys don’t eat birdseed, and need the proper tools to hunt. The most mesmerizing thing I’ve noticed about my girls however, is their eyes.
Owls have HUGE eyes, and they’re not just for show. Designed to help them hunt in the dark, the eye of an owl is extremely farsighted to help them spot prey down on the ground when they are up in a tree. A much higher degree of rotation in their necks help to compensate for the eyeball lacking directional movement. While we as humans can move our eyes around without moving our heads, owls can only look straight forward!
Folklore often labels owls as a symbol for wisdom, and the eye of the owl has much say in that title. As the owl can see so far ahead of them, symbolism encourages us to look past our current circumstances into the future. Out of the entire animal kingdom, owl eyes combined with their observant silence lends them to be a totem for patience and thoughtfulness too.
Hooty and Click have the most beautiful eyes, and by far my favorite part of doing glove work with them is when they look up at me and make direct eye contact. It is SO much more than just watching me as a potential threat, but a true bonding moment I am blessed to have with these wild creatures.
Hooty and Click live outside at our nature center. Find them near our pavilion next time you visit!