Snowy Owl
St. Nick Flies to Freedom
Dec. 8, 2018

Last week, Robyn Graboski, the director of Centre Wildlife Care (CWC), the animal rehabbing facility of central Pennsylvania, released St. Nick, a snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus), back into the wild.
Snowy owl portrait

From Robyn: "St. Nick came in last Christmas with injuries from razer wire. He was a challenging case. We tried to release him in the spring, but he was not ready. Every time we put him in the flight enclosure, he would stop eating. Then we needed to keep him through the summer because he missed migration up to the tundra. We released him in a remote location where he will be safe."

The first step was to transfer St. Nick to a crate for transport. While photographing the snowy in his flight cage, I knew exactly where Robyn was by following the direction of St. Nick's gaze. As usual, however, Robyn made apprehending the snowy look easy, and so there wasn't much time for photos then and there.

Snowy owl on alert

At the release location, we all spread out to be in what we thought the best view of the forthcoming owl. After checking that we were ready, Robyn opened the crate door.

The snowy owl took all of 8 seconds thinking it over.

Snowy owl prepared

After he thought it over, the snowy owl burst out of the crate and immediately took to flight.
Snowy owl aloft

The snowy, St. Nick, was a very strong flyer (pointing to a successful rehabilitation).
Snowy owl flying

Another part of a good release: The happy Susan DeArment (who arranged the logistics of the release point) and Robyn Graboski.
Robyn Graboski and Susan DeArment

The CWC public page on Facebook has a 17-photo album of the release, including photographs by Ron Crandell, Susan DeArment, and me.

Note: I've a web page showing the CWC banding of the snowy owl, as well as of several other owls, on 14 March 2018.

Photo note: I used a Pentax K3-II, with the SMC-FA 50mm lens, for the first two and last photo, and a Pentax K3, with the SMC-DA 60-250mm lens for the others, taken on 29 November 2018.

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