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One-Eyed Jack

October 25, 2010

I can’t stand being sick, but when I have a stuffed up nose I’m grateful I have an extra nostril to breathe through. If they’re both plugged up I can still breath through my mouth. It’s good to have a back up system when things don’t work. Nature has provided us with a pair of lungs, ears, arms, legs, etc. I wish I had a second brain for the times when the one I have fails me.

Which leads me to One-Eyed Jack, the visually impaired Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) who lives in a big open field in Cape Coral, Florida. If I had a second brain I might be able to tell you what is wrong with his eye, but I don’t, so I can’t. As sympathetic as I am to the bird’s plight I can’t help but find amusement in the inappropriateness of a Cycloptic owl from the genus Athne. Owls of course are the mascot of the Greek goddess Athene (or Athena) who helped conquer the famous Cyclops with a poke in the eye, what was, at the time, an ingenious strategy. I think that was in Homer’s Odyssey. I’m not positive. Look it up on Wikipedia. Again this is where two brains would come in handy.

Regardless of mythological misinformation, the one-eyed wonder pictured here and photographed by wildlife photographer Milla Voellinger should survive just fine. Although binocular vision would certainly come in handy as the pint-sized, diurnal raptor hunts down lizards, insects and other prey, it’s a handicap that can easily be overcome.

Try your hand at monoscopic vision. With one eye covered, run as fast as you can to the kitchen, grab your favorite snack or beverage from the fridge and return to this riveting piece of journalism. It would have helped to have had both eyes right? But you did it.

Living in the wild, the owl has concerns beyond the family cat, the banister and the step-stool you had to navigate around in this experiment. Burrowing Owls have to contend with outdoor cats, cars and other obstacles as the go about their day. Fortunately for this owl it has friends and family. One-eyed or two-eyed, they all watch out for each other.

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