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Snowy Owl Chick Rescued Through Multi-State Effort!

November 10, 2022


In September 2022, ORI was contacted by a wildlife veterinarian in Utqiagvik, AK about a banded Snowy Owl that had been injured. It had been found in a field near a school, unable to fly. While we will never really know what happened to the owl, we are sure the injuries it sustained were human-caused.

A young Snowy Owl in a straw-lined cage, looking ruffled.
Snowy Owl Chick 6, just after she was rescued in September 2022.

As we soon learned, this bird was one of the chicks from the 2022 nest that we had been monitoring all summer (See: Timeline of the 2022 Snowy Owl Breeding Season), and which we had been watching on the live Snowy Owl cam. Confirmed by her band number, this Snowy Owl is the youngest of the 6 chicks from the nest, a female. Based on her age, Chick 6 should have been able to fly by the time she was found, even though she was the youngest.

We hoped that the young owl could be released while the rest of her family was still in the area, but unfortunately her injuries were too extensive, and the rest of her family had moved on. We needed to figure out another solution.

The Alaska Raptor Center (of Sitka, Alaska) helped us to quickly arrange transport for the young Snowy Owl to their facility. Upon arrival, they discovered through x-rays that she had sustained fractures to the pelvis and wing that had already begun to heal. After spending a few weeks in the care of the Alaska Raptor Center, we realized that different arrangements needed to be made for her long-term care. Due to avian influenza, there is currently not a lot of space for injured birds in many rehab facilities, and the young Snowy Owl needed to find a different place where she could spend the winter and continue to heal.

A Snowy Owl is held by an avian care specialist wearing thick leather gloves while another specialist feeds her using tongs.
Avian care specialists feed the hungry rescued Snowy Owl at the Alaska Raptor Center in Sikta, AK. October 15, 2022.

Huge thanks to Jennifer Cedarleaf and the Alaska Raptor Center for taking in the Snowy Owl and getting her the medical exams & treatment she needed, and for arranging safe transport!
You can donate to support their efforts on the Alaska Raptor Center website.

After her time in Sitka, Chick 6 made the long journey to Montana (although, not a longer distance than some Snowy Owls fly in the winter, as we often see these birds coming south from the Arctic around this time of year). However, instead of flying on her own, Chick 6 got a lift from Alaska Airlines all the way from Alaska to Missoula, Montana.

THANK YOU to Alaska Airlines for handling this special cargo with care!

A woman wearing winter clothes kneels next to a travel crate with stickers that say "live animals."
Brooke Tanner of Wild Skies Raptor Center opens the travelling crate to let the Snowy Owl out into her private area in the rehab facility. Chick 6 came right out of the crate, and soon after ate a tasty rat- she was hungry after her long journey from Alaska!

A young female Snowy Owl perched on a branch in an enclosure at Wild Skies Raptor Center, arehab facility.
Notice how her plumage has changed over the past month, progressing from a downy young chick to what you see in this picture, of a female juvenile Snowy Owl. By this time of year, most juvenile Snowy Owls will begin to disperse and even fly long distances to wintering areas.

Now that she’s in Montana, Chick 6 will spend the winter in the expert care of the Wild Skies Raptor Center. Please consider donating to Wild Skies to help feed, house, and rehabilitate the owl through the winter. She eats $4 worth of food every day! Every donation, no matter what the size, will help cover these costs!

UPDATE- On Nov. 8, 2022, we got word from Brooke Tanner at Wild Skies that Chick 6 is improving every day! She flew a tight circle in her flight training yesterday, which is excellent news as it means she's healing and recovering!

Only time will tell if she will be able to survive on her own back in the wild, and if all goes well, she will be released back up in the Arctic next spring!

Donate to Wild Skies Raptor Center to help feed & house Snowy Owl Chick 6 for the winter!

A young female Snowy Owl at Wild Skies Raptor Center, a rehab facility in Montana, stands on the ground looking down at a dead white rat clutched in one of her feet.
The young rescued Snowy Owl pounces on her prey. She may have to learn how to hunt to successfully survive in the wild.

Some pictures of Chick 6 and her siblings taken earlier this summer during nest checks. See Timeline of the 2022 Snowy Owl Breeding Season for more information about ORI's Snowy Owl Research, and to learn more about our observations of this season's nest. It was the only nest we found in our study area this year, and successfully fledged 6 healthy Snowy Owl chicks.


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