Have you met Small Eyes?
Small Eyes hatched at the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program (NSOBP) in 2009, the second owl to hatch at the facility. She was born with bilateral microphthalmia, a disorder of the eye where both eyes are abnormally small. This condition, combined with cataracts, means that Small Eyes is visually impaired.
Due to her disability, Small Eyes could not bond with a male owl and join the breeding population. In 2019, NSOBP staff trained Small Eyes to be an educational ambassador for her species.
In many ways, Small Eyes is a true matriarch of the NSOBP, a strong female that is sharing and preserving the story of spotted owls in Canada. She captures the hearts of people across the Greater Vancouver area at community events, bridging the gap between humans and wildlife in a way that no other owl could. Her gentle nature and presence have inspired many to take action in supporting the recovery of spotted owls.
Small Eyes is the only glove-trained northern spotted owl in Canada. Her role is pivotal and reminds us that sometimes what may be considered a limitation is ultimately an extraordinary gift.
In 2023, the NSOBP began updating our outreach programming with the goal of refocusing our efforts towards the education system and delivering classroom presentations.
We were delighted to introduce Small Eyes to numerous classrooms in the Greater Vancouver area, enlightening students about the significance of preserving endangered species, such as the northern spotted owl. Consequently, we received some wonderful 'fan art' of Small Eyes from these emerging conservation enthusiasts. Check out page 11 to appreciate the beautiful artwork!
This article was originally published in our 2023 Newsletter.