Monday, July 11, 2016

Remembering Burlington, An Owl Ambassador

By Jordan Daley, Science Outreach Coordinator

Last week VINS lost a treasured animal ambassador and member of our VINS family. Burlington, a resident Great Horned Owl passed away after ten years of greeting and inspiring visitors to the Nature Center.


Burlington came to VINS in June of 2006, well into his adult years. He was hit by a van travelling at 65 mph. Despite the enormous impact, this bird proved to be determined from the start, quickly eating the mouse he was hunting at the time of the collision. After a long road to recovery, his injury proved too severe to heal completely and the damage to his right elbow and shoulder rendered Burlington flightless.

Unable to hunt in the wild, he was transferred to our permanent raptor exhibits. Burlington's stunning plumage and calm demeanor made him an incredible example of the "Tiger of the Sky." Great Horned Owls are often compared to the predatory cat for their hunting skills; they are the apex predators of the night sky.

Visitors and staff aren't the only ones who benefited from Burlington's presence. He is survived by an enclosure-mate, Barnard, a female Great Horned Owl. Occasionally, during feeding time, Barnard would offer mice to Burlington. In the wild, this courtship behavior helps to strengthen the bond between a mated pair. This mate-feeding is one way we knew they were comfortable in their enclosure together.

Burlington left, Barnard right

Burlington will be dearly missed. He has touched countless lives as an ambassador to the world of owls, inspiring stewardship and conservation. May his legacy continue to do so. 

You can contribute to the welfare of Burlington's enclosure-mate and his fellow animal ambassadors through the VINS Raptor Information, Support & Education program. Please visit www.vinsrise.org for more details. Your contribution supports the specialized care each of our birds receive.  

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