D.C.’s snowy owl recovering well — even playing

The snowy owl suffered from a broken toe but is otherwise just fine. (Courtesy City Wildlife)

WASHINGTON — If there’s a spa for snowy owls, it sounds like D.C.’s famous bird has landed there.

A rare snowy owl searching for food in the nation’s capital in January was hit by a bus or SUV and was treated at the National Zoo before heading to City Wildlife in Northwest to rest and recuperate.

The female owl has received special living space, a diet tailored to her needs and wildlife rehabilitators doing all they can to get her migration-ready.

Last month, she was cleared to head to a second rehabilitation center, so that she could build up her strength for a trip back to the Arctic under her own power. The owl was taken to an undisclosed center where wildlife rehabilitators put a premium on limiting the owl’s contact with humans so she could get back to being wild and prepared for “flight conditioning.”

But Paula Goldberg, executive director of City Wildlife, says biologists and veterinarians think the owl’s feathers might not be up to long flight. It turns out they’re a little skimpy.

The rehabilitators may consider a sort of feather enhancement, something called “imping.” Goldberg explains it’s a procedure in which “feathers from other birds are attached to existing feathers

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