Eye of the Eagle Sanctuary has acres full of farm life. On any given day you will see all kinds of animals wandering around. Dr. Miller has Horses, Miniature Horses, Miniature Donkeys, Donkeys, Emus, Rhea, and various Parrots.

Family: Equidae

Subfamily: Equus Ferus Caballus

TheHorse (Equus ferus caballus) is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus. It is an odd-toed ungulate mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today. Humans began to domesticate horses around 4000 BC, and their domestication is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BC. Horses in the subspecies caballus are domesticated, although some domesticated populations live in the wild as feral horses. These feral populations are not true wild horses, as this term is used to describe horses that have never been domesticated, such as the endangered Przewalski's horse, a separate subspecies, and the only remaining true wild horse. There is an extensive, specialized vocabulary used to describe equine-related concepts, covering everything from anatomy to life stages, size, colors, markings, breeds, locomotion, and behavior. Horses' anatomy enables them to make use of speed to escape predators and they have a well-developed sense of balance and a strong fight-or-flight response. Related to this need to flee from predators in the wild is an unusual trait: horses are able to sleep both standing up and lying down. Female horses, called mares, carry their young for approximately 11 months, and a young horse, called a foal, can stand and run shortly following birth. Most domesticated horses begin training under saddle or in harness between the ages of two and four. They reach full adult development by age five, and have an average lifespan of between 25 and 30 years. Horse breeds are loosely divided into three categories based on general temperament: spirited "hot bloods" with speed and endurance; "cold bloods", such as draft horses and some ponies, suitable for slow, heavy work; and "warmbloods", developed from crosses between hot bloods and cold bloods, often focusing on creating breeds for specific riding purposes, particularly in Europe. There are more than 300 breeds of horse in the world today, developed for many different uses..


Turtle is a 7 year old warmblood trakehner huge pale gray horse. He was trained to be an Olympic jumper, but unfortunately managed to push a metal rod through one of his back legs. $70,000 dollars of medical care later, Turtle suddenly found himself with one week to find a home or be euthanized. Somehow the boarding stable heard about us and begged us to take him. The next day Turtle was on a trailer on his way to our barn and back pasture. Turtle is highly trained and wonderful to lightly ride. He is very well behaved except when it comes to his supper. He has to be first in line to be let in the barn for his grain. He is also a big fan of carrots and apples and enjoys his days freely roaming in the back pasture.


Calvin is also a very big magnificent boy in his mid teens. He is a warmblood oldenberg and just as gentle as Turtle. He was a highly trained hunter jumper and spent a lot of time in show rings until he acquired ringbone in a back foot and could no longer jump in competitions. Calvin has learned to let Turtle come in to the barn first for his grain, but Calvin knows he is second in line and won’t let anybody else take his place. Calvin is a magnificent dark bay with very gentle eyes. He, like Turtle, enjoys spending his days roaming the back pasture with all his friends. Calvin never turns down a peppermint or carrot or apple as a treat. He watches to see if any of us are holding one of his treats and makes sure he gets one.

Family: Equidae

Subfamily: Equus Ferus Caballus

Miniature horses are found in many nations, particularly in Europe and the Americas. The designation of miniature horse is determined by the height of the animal, which, depending on the particular breed registry involved, is usually less than 34–38 inches (86–97 cm) as measured at the last hairs of the mane, which are found at the withers. While miniature horses are the size of a very small pony, many retain horse characteristics and are considered "horses" by their respective registries. They have various colors and coat patterns. Miniature horses are friendly and interact well with people. For this reason they are often kept as family pets, though they still retain natural horse behavior, including a natural fight or flight instinct, and must be treated like an equine, even if they primarily serve as a companion animal. They are also trained as service animals, akin to assistance dogs for people with disabilities. Miniature horses are also trained for driving, equine agility and other competitive horse show type events. While miniature horses can be trained to work indoors, they are still real horses and are healthier when allowed to live outdoors (with proper shelter and room to run) when not working with humans. They are generally quite hardy, often living longer on average than some full-sized horse breeds; the average life span of miniature horses is from 25 to 35 years.

The Miniature Horses

Butterball Pistol Ditto Hail Storm Caramel Ice. Butterball is a small barrel on short stubby legs. He is a palomino miniature horse gelding who had been tied to a tree for years. Now he roams the back pasture with his other miniature horse friends, but when motivated he can run like the wind. We always have to giggle when we see him tearing around the pasture on his short little legs. He is usually one of the first in the food line at the evening feeding. Ditto was also part of the band mini horses that came from Tennessee with Pistol’s mother.< He is a tiny, but mighty sorrel mini horse with a very big attitude. We frequently see bite marks on the big horses from him trying to defend his territory. Fortunately our big horses are really good natured and tolerate his indiscretions. It is likely that Ditto is Pistol’s father. Currently Ditto is stalled by himself until his aggressive attitude calms down. Storm, Caramel, and Ice are six of then mini horses that came to us several months ago. They were part of a confiscation carried out by Florida Department to Agriculture because they were emaciated, starving, dehydrated and sorely in need of medical attention and hoof trimming. Unfortunately, BRAT, SUGAR, CHERRY and GOLDIE died or had to be euthanized because of sand blockages, feet deformations and other skeletal deformations. These tiny horses had 50 pounds of sand in each of their intestinal tracts and no visible evidence of anything edible. But so far the other six are responding and are looking like happy health minis again. Their coats are full and shiny and their fearful attitudes have returned to trusting, gentle natures, except for little Caramel who still runs us around the pasture if we need to catch him. All these little guys and girls are talented at dropping halters, which sends us on hours or search and seizure. But we always find them.

Miniature Donkeys

Brighty Beauty Betsy Shiloh and Crunch are also one of the rescues along with Lester and the mini horses. Crunch is a brown miniature bull of unknown origin. He was about 50 pounds thin when he arrived and now is about 50 pounds heavy. Crunch starts mooing at the top of his lungs when he hears the food wagon and for a bull he surprisingly amenable. He always comes right up to us and runs beside the ATV until the food starts pouring out. We will probably try to locate a friend for Crunch since he is the only bovine out there, but he seems to get along well with all the other minis. Brighty, Beauty, Betsy, and Shiloh are four miniature donkeys that came to live here at sanctuary. Beauty had been attacked by a large dog who severely damaged her face and nose. With treatment she healed well except for a few lost teeth. She has always been extremely friendly and loves to get pieces of bread and carrots for treats. The other three donkeys were true wild children when they came, but within a few months they all staring ganging up around the food wagon for their corn and treats. All four of them are a joy to watch playing in the pasture. Our visitors love to interact with them. Occasionally, Brightly will take a nip out of backsides is they don’t provide treats fast enough. Since Shiloh has figured out his responsibilities, we may be seeing baby mini donkeys in the spring. We are looking forward to those happy occasions.

Family: Dromaiidae

Subfamily: Dromaius Novaehollandiae

Flightless birds are birds that cannot fly but they can run and/or swim instead of flying, but they did evolve from flying ancestors. There are about 40 species in existence today, the best known being the ratites (ostrich, emu, cassowary, rhea and kiwi) and the penguins. Some birds evolved flightlessness in response to the release from predation, for example on oceanic islands, although this is likely not the case for the ratites as evolutionary origins suggest a continental biogeographical providence. Two key differences between flying and flightless birds are the smaller wing bones of flightless birds and the absent (or greatly reduced) keel on their breastbone. (The keel anchors muscles needed for wing movement.) Flightless birds also have more feathers than flying birds.


Emu sometimes (Dromaius novaehollandiae) is the largest bird native to Australia and the only extant member of the genus Dromaius. It is the second-largest extant bird in the world by height, after its ratite relative, the ostrich. There are three subspecies of emus in Australia. The emu is common over most of mainland Australia, although it avoids heavily populated areas, dense forest, and arid areas.

Their long legs allow them to take strides of up to 275 centimetres (9.02 ft). They are opportunistically nomadic and may travel long distances to find food; they feed on a variety of plants and insects, but have been known to go for weeks without food.Emus ingest stones, glass shards and bits of metal to grind food in the digestive system. They drink infrequently, but take in copious fluids when the opportunity arises. Emus will sit in water and are also able to swim. They are curious birds who are known to follow and watch other animals and humans. Emus do not sleep continuously at night but in several short stints sitting down.

Sneakers and Rhea

Sneakers and friends are six emus who have come to us over a period of years from the Alachua County Animal Shelter. They were rescued from neighborhoods where they were running at large. Unfortunately no one claimed them and so they became permanent residents along with one small female rhea. Sneakers actually appeared years ago as tiny gawky striped emu in a slender cardboard box and slowly, but surely grew up to be handsome male emu. Eventually he took a mate of one of the female emus that came to live here and they have had several clutches of dark green eggs. Sneakers is a great father and sits on the eggs through all kinds of weather. He feathers the nest with his own back feathers and turns the eggs regularly. Then when they hatch he is an exceptionally proud papa. Through this whole process, the mama bird is the protector and she drums loudly when approached. Sneakers is gentle and lets me check his eggs regularly.


Rheas are large, flightless birds with grey-brown plumage, long legs and long necks, similar to an ostrich. Large males of R. americana can reach 170 cm (67 in) tall at the head, 100 cm (39 in) at the back and can weigh up to 40 kg (88 lb) The Lesser Rhea is somewhat smaller as they are only 90 cm (35 in) tall at the back Their wings are large for a flightless bird (250 cm (8.2 ft)) and are spread while running, to act like sails. Unlike most birds, rheas have only three toes. Their tarsus has 18 to 22 horizontal plates on the front of it. They also store urine separately in an expansion of the cloaca.


Magnolia is a young rhea that came to the sanctuary about 6 months ago. Unfortunately she is the only rhea her but she has befriended some of the emus. This summer she laid very large white eggs. I had a hard time believing they were hers because they were so big for such a small bird. We collected the eggs since they were infertile so she would not waste time and energy sitting on them. She is a fast, funny, pretty little light gray bird who seems to have adjusted well here.

Class: Aves

Order: Psittaciformes

Parrots also known as psittacines are birds of the roughly 372 species in 86 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The order is subdivided into three superfamilies: the Psittacoidea ('true' parrots), the Cacatuoidea (cockatoos) and the Strigopoidea (New Zealand parrots). Parrots have a generally pantropical distribution with several species inhabiting temperate regions in the Southern Hemisphere as well. The greatest diversity of parrots is in South America and Australasia. Characteristic features of parrots include a strong, curved bill, an upright stance, strong legs, and clawed zygodactyl feet. Many parrots are vividly coloured, and some are multi-coloured. The plumage of cockatoos ranges from mostly white to mostly black, with a mobile crest of feathers on the tops of their heads. Most parrots exhibit little or no sexual dimorphism. They form the most variably sized bird order in terms of length. The most important components of most parrots' diets are seeds, nuts, fruit, buds and other plant material. A few species sometimes eat animals and carrion, while the lories and lorikeets are specialised for feeding on floral nectar and soft fruits. Almost all parrots nest in tree hollows (or nest boxes in captivity), and lay white eggs from which hatch altricial (helpless) young. Parrots, along with ravens, crows, jays and magpies, are among the most intelligent birds, and the ability of some species to imitate human voices enhances their popularity as pets. Trapping wild parrots for the pet trade, as well as hunting, habitat loss and competition from invasive species, has diminished wild populations, with parrots being subjected to more exploitation than any other group of birds. Measures taken to conserve the habitats of some high-profile charismatic species have also protected many of the less charismatic species living in the same ecosystems. Usually by bed time everybody is quiet. Everybody gets a fruit and vegetable bowl every morning in addition to their pellets and seed. Sometimes on a Sunday morning we all get pancakes or French toast as a treat. Most days this bunch provides a lot of entertainment, sometimes a little too noisy or ear piercing but usually comical. It has been a real experience working with so many types of parrots. They have many similarities, but yet they are all so different. NOTE: I did not name most of these birds, but they know their names so I did not change them.

The Parrots

There are about two dozen parrots that came her one by one or two by two in need of a permanent home. Most of the parrots started out as cute, friendly little pet feather balls. And then they reached breeding age and became aggressive to one or several family members. So here they are!

Precious and Kiwi

Among our other parrots are Senegals, Precious and Kiwi.

Mariah and Zev

Mini Macaws, Hekyl and Jekyl, 40 year old Bolivian blue and gold macaws , Killer 1 and Killer 2. The mini macaws say “Hey guys, what ya doin?” when I come in the door.


Eclectus named Cockoo.


Kiwi came to us as a young feather ball kestral with a big attitude. Kiwi spent many hours entertaining us with his antics. He played with everything he could get his talons on all the while bobbing his pretty head to get a better view of his toy or mouse. Kiwi has been a true delight and is very good as a program bird. Kestrals are one of the few raptors in which the female and male are dimorphic. The females are more brown with less of the slate blue that the males sport.

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