Today we visited the American Indian Arts Festival at the Rankokus Indian Reservation. One of the performers was Jennifer Pena, from the father/daughter team Flight of the Raptor. The photo above is of a Eurasian Eagle Owl.
I was really amazed by the bright orange color of this bird's eyes. I looked around and was not able to find any evolutionary reason for this unusual eye color. But I did find some interesting information about owls' eyes in general.
Owls' eyes are tubular in shape rather than round like ours. This gives their eyes a longer focal length, like a telescope, which is great for picking out critters for dinner. But this tubular shape means their eyes cannot rotate in a socket like our "eyeballs". So, they have to turn their whole head, which they are very good at because their necks have twice as many vertebrae as ours. This guy was constantly turning his head around, so I had to snap quite a few pictures to get this lucky one of him looking right at the camera!
To learn more about owls' eyes, check out this website. To really have fun, order some "owl pellets" online and pick them apart. Owl pellets are the regurgitated remains of the owl's meal, which contain the parts that can't be fully digested. We did this with my son's Cub Scout pack several years ago and the kids loved it. You can reconstruct the skeleton of the mouse, mole, etc. that the owl ate. Gross and educational at the same time, and what's better than that?
To learn more about the Rankokus Indian Reservation, home of the Powhatan Renape Nation, click here.