I saw this pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owl) near Waimea and pulled over to take photos. I watched and photographed it for 15 minutes or so and, at the time, I thought there was something unusual about it. Something didn’t seem quite right. But it wasn’t until I got home and looked at the photos that I realized what was up.
The pueo was missing its left eye. The eye socket seemed healed and the pueo didn’t appear to be in pain. Nor did it seem affected in its flying or behavior. In some ways this makes sense. Owls have great eyesight, but it’s their hearing that is truly extraordinary. They can pinpoint prey just by listening. However, in Hawaii, pueos are active during the day so one would think eyesight might be a more important sense than for nocturnal owls.
Either way, I felt a bit sad for the pueo, but I’m also keenly aware that nature isn’t all warm and fuzzy. And I’ve seen several creatures that have been significantly damaged in one way or another that seem to be doing fine despite their handicaps. Perhaps, from a Darwinian point of view, they’re not successful when it comes to finding a mate and breeding, so their genes are not passed on. I don’t know whether this is the case, but it’s certainly possible.
Regardless, I hope for the best for this pueo. Life for them is tough enough as it is without added challenges.
Posted in response to this week’s Sunday Stills challenge on the theme of ‘Unusual.’ (See more offerings here.)