Great Horned Owl
Barnard has lived at VINS longer than any other exhibit bird. She was treated at VINS in 1985 for paralysis in her left foot. One of her paralyzed toes is the hallux, the powerful backward-facing toe that is essential for catching prey. Unfortunately, Barnard is unable to capture live prey, so she would starve in the wild.
During feeding time, visitors would have found Barnard offering mice to the late male owl, Burlington. In the wild, this courtship behavior helps to strengthen the bond between a mated pair. Our birds cannot breed at VINS, but we are always glad to see our birds interacting in ways that are as natural as possible. This act of mate-feeding was one way that Barnard has shown us that she is comfortable here.
All of our exhibit birds receive biannual health checks and a variety of nutritious food, thanks to the Center for Wild Bird Rehabilitation. Our owls eat mostly mice, rat, and rabbit with plenty of fur. Furry food helps our owls create and regurgitate healthy pellets containing indigestible parts of their meals.