Snowy owl brings attention to wildlife workers

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

WASHINGTON – A snowy owl spotted in D.C., which was injured when it was grazed by a bus, is receiving care from a local facility to help the bird achieve its ultimate goal of getting back to its home in the wild.

It is still not known whether to refer to D.C.’s injured snowy owl as “he” or “she” yet; the DNA test that will reveal that information hasn’t been completed. The bird has yet to undergo X-rays, too.

The striking visitor from the Arctic has put a spotlight on the work done in a quiet corner of the District of Columbia. In a small building just a few doors down from the Washington Animal Rescue League, where domestic animals are rescued and cared for, a parade of wild animals has been getting help since City Wildlife opened its doors last summer.

Anne Lewis, president of the board of directors at City Wildlife laughs when asked what kind of animals the facility has handled. “You name it!” she says, beginning to tick off a list.

“Ospreys; little tiny hummingbirds; we get lots of squirrels,” she says, adding that they even have a snapping turtle and a pair of possums who’ll spend the rest of the winter indoors while getting into shape for a spring release.

Lewis says the snowy owl’s treatment may have to include something that sounds like what elite athletes get.

“If the healing process takes a while, this bird will have lost some of its flight capability and we’ll have to send it to a raptor rehabilitator for flight conditioning.”

All of this costs money, and like other centers that do similar work — for example, Second Chance Wildlife Center in Gaithersburg — City Wildlife depends on donations and sponsorships. Lewis says if you’d like to donate, you can check their website.

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