Animal Diaries Archive
Flip and Raya
28 October 2005What a week it has been. I have just returned from two weeks of holidays and it has taken almost the whole week to catch up on what has been happening with our show stars.
Flip the Pied Cormorant has made it back into the show routine very nicely, learning very quickly to utilise his own special release hatch that enables him to get direct access to the Crocoseum pond in one short jump. He actually swims out the very same canal that the crocodiles use. Of course, this is while all the crocs are safely away!
One uncanny ability that Flip has is the ability to tell time. Without fail, during each show Flip's segment goes for only three minutes, and he is always right on cue when he has to come back in; a very unique ability. Pretty much every species of bird has its own unique ability or adaptation that makes it easier or safer for them to survive.
If you have a look at this week's photo you may notice that the Wedge-tailed Eagle's eye looks very odd. What is happening is that Raya is actually closing her third eyelid. This eyelid is a transparent membrane that will cover the entire exposed portion of the eye. Why do eagles have a third eyelid?
Could you imagine being a Wedge-tailed Eagle hunting down some rabbits or wallabies, coming in to catch your prey at a great rate of knots and hitting the ground tumbling through the grass and dust with your eyes open. You would very quickly get sore or damaged eyes, hey?
"Why don't they just close them?" you might ask. Most of the live prey items that the eagles catch don't actually want to be caught by an eagle (funny that) and will do everything they can to avoid it. So in the chase they will change direction very quickly and if the eagle had its eyes closed it simply would not see this and would not catch anything. So the eagles have evolved this third eyelid that flicks across their eye to protect it from any dust or grass that might get into it as they strike their prey, but still allows them to see through it enough to be able to visualise where their prey is, another very unique adaptation.