One-eyed pueo

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.)

7 thoughts on “One-eyed pueo

  1. Been thinking about the many threats that might cause an owl to lose an eye. Glad that this one seems to have healed and has adapted and can hunt successfully. I have read about barbed wire fences and strands snagging owls wings as they fly by and entangling/trapping them, and I wonder how the fences of the type in your photos might impact on birds and animals.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I expect such fences could be an issue. I’ve never seen a pueo run into one. They seem very adept at negotiating such obstacles. I don’t know whether the fact that they’re active during the day makes a difference. I think it might as it would be very hard to pick out those fences at night. Around here, collisions with vehicles are a bigger problem. Sometimes we have explosions in the mouse population to the extent that it’s impossible to avoid running over them, they’re so thick on the ground. But pueos, seeking easy pickings, can also get caught up in the carnage.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s always amazed me that wildlife seems to cope so well without the need for medicines when injured. They seem to carry on regardless. Recently, I had to break up a fight between several large crows. Three of them were attacking another bird, and I couldn’t bear to watch the poor creature being assaulted like it was. However, my partner said it normal behaviour, and that nature was at work. That made me think about my actions and whether I should have broken the fight up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a tough call. I know David Attenborough and his crew don’t interfere when they’re filming wildlife, but even they did when seeing some penguins essentially about to die for lack of a little help. I know I’ve seen and posted about creatures eating other creatures. When it’s a gecko eating a bug, I don’t seem too bothered, but a cat attacking a bird? I don’t know. I know nature can be very cruel, that’s for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

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