DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — The Illinois Raptor Center in Decatur said five of its last six patients, three of which were Barred Owls, were admitted to their care center for the same reason: they sustained head trauma when they were hit by cars.
The Raptor Center said the birds aren’t able to see traffic coming at them from the side for two reasons. The first is that their eyes are locked forward, unable to move from side to side like a human’s eyes can. This limited eye movement is compensated for by their ability to turn their heads 270 degrees, but that movement is negated by the second reason: raptors become so focused on their prey that they experience a form of tunnel vision, looking at and looking for nothing else.
“Unfortunately, this ends up with collisions at times,” the Raptor Center said.
The Raptor Center said the first two owls it cared for had significant eye damage from the trauma they experienced, requiring them to be transferred elsewhere for more intensive veterinary care and potential surgery. The latest owl had blood spots in both eyes, but the Raptor Center said that behind those spots, his eyes were functioning normally and he was able to see the veterinarians and track movement.
For now, the Raptor Center said, the owl is receiving oxygen, which has helped other bids in the past, along with pain medication and eye drops. The Raptor Center added that he is eating on his own.
“Hopefully we’ll see him perk up more in the coming days and we’ll be able to move him from our ICU to more spacious enclosures to allow him to work towards being released back to the wild in the near future once he’s fully healed,” the Raptor Center said.