Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ferruginous Hawk with only one eye


I had found this female light-morph Ferruginous Hawk 3 days ago in the eastern part of my county here in Colorado. I got some close up photos when she landed on a utility pole right across the road from where I was parked.

Though I had looked at this hawk with both my binoculars and when it was further away with my spotting scope, I didn't see that it was missing it's right eye until I uploaded these photos and got a good look at her face.

Having only one eye is a major problem for birds as it would significantly affect their depth perception which would make grabbing prey a difficult task for a raptor. I have read of raptors with one functional eye--one eagle was kept as an educational bird in a raptor center as it ran into things. The other raptor, an Eagle Owl, was released as the raptor center that treated it for injuries with an attached radio transmitter that allowed researches to follow her as she successfully raised a 3 offspring while they noted no detectable differences in her behavior compared to fully sighted birds.


I didn't go back to check on her until today due to snow and extreme cold but did go look for her today. I found her in the same area which is near a prairie dog town, the primary food source for this species. She was more distant and I didn't consider trying to get closer to her as I do not want to interfere with her hunting. It was too cold still to watch her to see how successful she is but will try to do so when it warms up a bit. SeEtta