Thank goodness for big ears!

This barred owl received care at VINS after being struck by a car. When examined, staff found that the raptor sustained damage to one of his eyes, which can spell trouble for a bird who uses his vision for nighttime hunting.

VINS President John Dolan releases a rehabilitated barred owl back into the wild.

But the good news is owls also rely quite heavily on their hearing for survival. Using their specialized ears, they can hear prey running along the forest floor, through fallen leaves, and even under snow! So while this owl does not have perfect vision, he has an excellent chance at a successful life in the wild.

When raptors come in with eye damage, we live prey test them — meaning we make sure they can successfully hunt live mice. This owl passed his test, so it’s back to the wild for him!

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