D.C. Snowy Owl Returned to Wild by The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota

Friday, April 18, 2014

The snowy owl reportedly hit by a bus in Washington, D.C., in late January 2014 is scheduled for release tomorrow by The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota.

The owl had been receiving care at The Raptor Center to replace damaged wing feathers and to complete its rehabilitation after initial treatment at the National Zoo and City Wildlife in Washington, D.C. The Raptor Center rehabilitates more than 900 sick and injured raptors each year, while training veterinary students and veterinarians from around the world to become future leaders in raptor medicine and conservation.

The rehabilitated owl will be released back to the wild on the northern Minn./Wis. border, alongside a second snowy owl patient from Superior, Wis.

“Once the snowy owl is released, what it will do is speculation,” said The Raptor Center clinic manager Lori Arent. “It may stay in the area for a few days, but its migratory urge will eventually encourage it to move north. The upper Midwest makes a lot of sense as a starting point for that journey.”

The Raptor Center has established guidelines judging a patient's readiness for release. Some of the benchmarks a patient must meet include the following:

  1. The bird’s injury or illness must be completely resolved.
  2. The bird must have a good complement of flight feathers.
  3. The bird must have completed its exercise program, reaching the level of strength and endurance required by the species and its lifestyle. It must have regained normal mechanics if recovering from a wing or leg injury. (For the snowy owl patient from Washington, D.C., regaining physical fitness required approximately three weeks of exercise after feather repair was completed.)
  4. The bird's basic blood values must fall within normal limits.
  5. The time of year, location and habitat must be suitable for the species in question.

To learn more about The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, visit The Raptor Center blog or social media.