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Snowy Owl successfully released back to the Arctic!

Young Snowy Owl finally home

From the Arctic to Montana and back again: the long journey of Snowy, the young female Snowy Owl who was rescued as a chick, has finally come full circle.

In June 2023 Snowy was released in the same area where she hatched last year, near the end of July 2022. While we do not know what her future may hold, we are excited that she is now back in the wild where she belongs. We wish her all the best, and hopefully we will see her again throughout the years in our study site! Denver has been keeping an eye on her in the days since her release, and will continue to do so as long as she stays in the area.

Watch the release video here:

It takes a village

This rescue could not have happened without the time, energy, and expertise of many dedicated professionals and volunteers.

Huge thanks especially to:

  • Brooke Tanner and the Wild Skies Raptor Center in Potomac, Montana

  • Jennifer Cedarleaf and the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, Alaska

  • Alaska Airlines

  • Everyone who donated to Wild Skies Raptor Center and the Alaska Raptor Center to help cover the costs associated with caring for Snowy during her time in rehabilitation

It took a community to care for this owl, and she would not have survived without the dedication of many. Thank you all for being part of her story.

Snowy’s story

Read the full story from November 2022 here:

And an update from January 2023 here:

A Snowy Owl chick in an enclosure, sitting on straw. One leg is sticking out in front, and a metal band is visible.
Snowy Owl Chick 6, just after she was rescued in September 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.

As we soon learned, this bird was one of the chicks from the 2022 nest that we had been monitoring all summer and watching on the live Snowy Owl cam. Confirmed by her band number, this Snowy Owl is a female and the youngest of the 6 chicks from the nest.

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.

A young snowy owl perches on a wooden branch in a rehabilitation enclosure and looks directly at the camera.
Snowy in her enclosure at Wild Skies Raptor Center on November 20, 2022.

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 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. With a lift from Alaska Airlines, Chick 6 made the long journey to Missoula, Montana, where she spent the winter in the expert care of the Wild Skies Raptor Center.

After a winter of healing Snowy was ready to be released, and in June 2023 she made the journey north (again with some help from Alaska Airlines), and was released in Utqiagvik.

A Snowy Owl flies across the open tundra.
Flying free over the tundra moments after her release.


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