A rare snowy owl whose plight drew national attention after it was apparently hit by a bus in the nation's capital has been released to the wild.
The injured owl was found in downtown Washington in late January and taken to the National Zoo before being transferred to a Washington, D.C., wildlife rehabilitation center. It underwent rehabilitation at The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, which has expertise in replacing damaged feathers.
The owl was released on Saturday into an area where a significant number of snowy owls have been observed over the past few winters.
"The snowy flew off with strong steady wingbeats, showing off the new flight feathers supplied by The Raptor Center,” said executive director Julia Ponder. “He is in great condition and will hopefully head back north in the coming days," said Ponder.
Snowy owls are native to the Arctic, but were seen all along the East Coast this winter as far south as Florida.