Post-rehab, injured snowy owl released into wild

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Associated Press

Posted on April 19, 2014 at 4:34 PM

Updated Saturday, Apr 19 at 4:36 PM

SUPERIOR, Wis. (AP) — A rare snowy owl that was apparently hit by a bus in the nation's capital flew back into the wild on Saturday, after weeks of rehab in Minnesota and procedures to replace its flight feathers.

Officials with the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota released the owl at about noon Saturday outside Superior, Wis., near the Minnesota and Wisconsin state border. That location was chosen by a biologist because snowy owls have been spotted there in recent winters, indicating there is good habitat for hunting.

"The snowy flew off with strong steady wing beats, showing off the new flight feathers," Julia Ponder, The Raptor's Center director, said in a statement. "He is in great condition and will hopefully head back north in the coming days."

The owl was found injured in downtown Washington in late January and taken to the National Zoo before being transferred to a Washington, D.C., wildlife rehabilitation center. It was then sent to The Raptor Center, which has expertise in replacing damaged feathers. It has since completed about a three-week exercise program and regained physical fitness before it was deemed ready for release.

Snowy owls are native to the Arctic but were seen all along the East Coast this winter, as far south as Florida.

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