VIENNA, W.Va. (WTAP) - UPDATE: 01/21/18 6:30 P.M.
Courtesy: Joey Herron
Jesse Fallon, the director of veterinary medicine at the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia, says the arctic snowy owl has been released back into the wild.
The owl was released on Saturday near Erie, Pennsylvania.
He says the bird has been recovering in their care for the last 5 weeks after sustaining a shoulder injury due to being hit by a car.
Fallon said,"These are one of the success stories and it always feels great particularly with the high profile bird like this to be able to release back out into the wild and hopefully give him the opportunity to live a long life to go and be a snowy owl."
Fallon says the owl is around 8 to 9 months old. He says those particular birds usually migrate south to southern Canada, New England, or the Northern Great Lakes region during the winter.
UPDATE: 12/21/2017, 4:45 P.M.
An Arctic Snowy Owl that drew curious onlookers in Vienna now appears to be injured and is being treated by the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia.
The center said Thursday afternoon on its Facebook page that it had rescued the owl and moved it to a safer home.
The center says veterinarians Vince Slabe and Jesse Fallon are treating the owl for a possible broken coracoid, instability in its shoulder and severe emaciation.
ORIGINAL STORY: 12/18/2017, 7:55 P.M.
If you haven't seen it in person, you've probably seen the social media posts. A six month old arctic snowy owl is drawing attention to Pond Run Creek between Panera and Ruby Tuesdays in Vienna.
“This is something that's very rare.” says Bill Thompson of the Bird Watchers Digest of Marietta. “It happens once every fifteen or twenty years where there’s a boom in the population of snowy owls. There are a lot of factors that go into that but the birds push far south. Normally the birds are in the arctic, the treeless tundra.”
Thompson’s wife, Julie Zickefoose, has been a bird rehabilitation for around 30 years. She explains why the bird is where it is.
“The reason its right here is this little creek, Pond Run, is this little strip of greed habitat is like a rat highway and you've got all these fast food restaurants. So the rats are basically going to the dumpsters eating and they're running along through here they're using the culverts as highways. So the owl is right here in the habitat that it’s found and it’s found a very rich food source.”
“This bird during the day when most of us will come see him, he's just resting. He's sleeping. It gets more active during dusk and dawn when he hunts.” says Thompson.
But Thompson and other experts, say it’s important not to get too close.
“We want to encourage everyone that's coming here to see him to please come and see the bird but please do so from a distance because these birds aren’t used to humans they aren’t used to vehicles they're not used to wires and all the clap trap of modern society.”
Jon Benedetti calls himself a birder. He’s been following the owls activity in the Mid-Ohio Valley for weeks now. “The only difficulties have been that folks want to get pictures of it and they're getting too close. It keeps fleshing and fleshing, it's not getting a chance to rest possible. And we're a little worried about that.”
“They're protected under federal law and we would like people to know that if anything were to happen to it that we would make sure that it got proper care.” adds Rebecca Young, with the US Fish and Wild Life Services.
While some are worried about the owl's well-being, those experts say it's not here because of an injury.
“A couple people thought they would capture it which is probably a bad idea as fierce a predator as this is they could have hurt themselves.” says Benedetti.
And Thompson adds, “This isn’t Hedwig from Harry Potter. This is a wild snowy owl from the far north and we want to respect it and let it live.”