Snowy owl rescued on 11th Ave ready to be released back into the wilds of Capitol Hill

The injured and weak snowy owl found supping on a downed seagull on Capitol Hill last month is strong enough to return to the wild and will be released Saturday morning at Volunteer Park.

Sarvey Wildlife Care Center, the organization caring for the owl since it was found unable to fly on 11th Ave in mid-November, announced the plan release. Details on the owl’s reintroduction into the wilds of Capitol Hill are below.

Earlier, CHS Aviary writer Melissa Koosmann told us a bit about the owl’s presence on Capitol Hill.

Snowy owls are more or less nomadic at this time of year. They probably base their movements on food availability, but biologists don’t fully understand how they make decisions about where to go, or when. They usually hang out in semi-wooded areas in Canada and the northern US, but they occasionally range as far south as Texas. I can tell you that this owl is likely a young one. Older owls stay in the arctic year-round, but the younger owls aren’t skilled enough hunters to live through the arctic winter.

The Seattle Times reported on the wintering birds — along with some great pictures — here.

The owl’s appearance coincided with another instance of an unusually wild creature coming to the attention of Capitol Hill residents. Fortunately, things have ended better for the owl.

Here’s the announcement from the non-profit Sarvey:

The snowy owl rescued in the Capitol Hill neighborhood will be released this Saturday, December 8th at 11:00 am       Release location is Volunteer Park, 1247 – 15th Ave E, Seattle
The Sarvey Wildlife Care Center ambulance will be in the parking lot. Kestrel SkyHawk, SWCC Education Director will be releasing the owl and available for questions. 
This snowy owl captured the attention of the residents in Capitol Hill when it was discovered injured on the ground grasping its prey on 11/13/12. The snowy owl has recovered from its injuries and continues to gain endurance and put on weight. At intake the owl was emaciated. Original weight on 11/13 was 1.47kg, as of 11/27/12 the owl weighed 1.84 kg. 



10 thoughts on “Snowy owl rescued on 11th Ave ready to be released back into the wilds of Capitol Hill

  1. This animal was found starving to death in an urban environment. It was rehabilitated and about to be released in the same environment. Is there any evidence that a snowy owl can live in a city? If not, release it somewhere else, put it in a zoo or euthanize it.

  2. But I’m a little worried the local crows will mob her as soon as they see her.

    Also: the SWCC Education Director is named “Kestrel SkyHawk”? Really?

  3. Thank you for the rescue of and nursing back to health that young Owl. I hope to be there at 11am up on Capital Hill Volunteer Park to see and hopefully photograph it’s release! Love all who care for our Animal Beings.

  4. Well, lets not put it in a zoo or kill it but maybe a bit farther out in the Woods towards the mountains? But perhaps that would confuse it about where it was going and completely throw it off it’s migration route. Problems with both answers.

  5. I imagine she can handle herself, before the 25% weight gain she was about the size of 3-4 crows put together, and was picking off the larger gulls.

    They are raptors for a reason, they prey on other birds. A few crows probably won’t hurt her.

    Thats the fun thing about birds, they can leave. If you release her in the city, she can fly away (and probably will) once the food starts to run out.

  6. FYI-
    The Asian Art Museum has a lecture that ends at 11:00 that day,(expecting 200 people) the Conservatory, is having an event at noon. I’m sure there will be people coming to volunteer park to see the release…not to mention the news crews covering it.

  7. No need to worry about this. Although I don’t know what injured this particular owl, I’m guessing the urban environment wasn’t the cause. This year, there have been thousands of snowy owl sightings across the northern U.S., which suggests the owls aren’t finding enough food up north. When this happens, it’s usually because of a normal cyclic drop in the arctic lemming population. Many owls make the southward journey weakened and underweight like the one we saw here on the Hill.

    Healthy snowy owls can move around just fine on their own, and the rescuers probably want to release her in the same geographical area where they found her. If she doesn’t want to be in the city anymore, she’ll leave.

    Here’s a map of this year’s US snowy owl sightings if you’re interested:

  8. We arrived about 15 minutes early and parked very close. There was a moderate crowd who were in the center or the park for the perfect pre holiday morning. Then the ambulance arrived, and there was clapping and cheering. they took the crowd who’d circled them to the west side of the park. They let the bird out and it stood there shortly and then took off in the northwest direction. It was beautiful to see it free. Last seen, there were crows chasing it north over the cemetary. Hopefully it got a little peace to get reorientated.
    Happy Holidays! (There ya go Ann)

  9. Actually the reason for the Snowy owl’s emergence in the urban environment is because there was actually a surge in Lemming population and a greater than normal Snowy survival rate the past couple of years … Most are young Males that are pushed farther South in search of a place of their own. The Dominate male are pushing them out of their normal wintering ground.