City Desk

RIP, Snowy Owl

The daredevil snowy owl who liked to fly low over the District's busy streets this year was found dead in Minnesota, the Raptor Center announced today. It appears the owl was, yet again, hit by a vehicle.

The rare snowy owl, which City Desk had tried to give a proper name, gained celebrity status in D.C. when he decided to perch downtown in January, posing for urban bird lovers' iPhone cameras.

The owl, however, couldn't stay still for long and was hit by a bus on 15th and Eye streets NW one morning about a week after he first alit here. He sustained some head trauma, but luckily, survived the collision.

The bird was eventually transported to the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota for rehabilitation and was released back into the wild on April 19.

But now the Raptor Center says the owl's body was recovered on the shoulder of a Minnesota highway, near where he had been released last spring.

"The body was in good condition, indicating the owl was successfully hunting, and was identifiable by a bird band placed on the leg prior to release," the center said.

The vice president at the American Bird Conservancy, Mike Parr, had explained to City Desk in January that these owls typically live in the northern polar regions and eat lemmings. When there are a lot of lemmings, they procreate more. But at the end of the breeding season, there are fewer lemmings and more owls, so some of the owls are edged out, which is why they occasionally drift south.

Photo by Perry Stein

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