Washington, D.C.’s Snowy Owl Found Dead in Minnesota

Watch a video detailing how the famous snowy owl got new feathers earlier this year.


A snowy owl injured during its big-city adventure to Washington, D.C., this past winter has died. It survived camera-toting fans and a run-in with a bus in the nation’s capital, only to be found dead by the side of a Minnesota highway.

The exact cause of death is unknown, but it appears the bird of prey was hit by yet another vehicle, according to a statement from the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul last Friday. The snowy owl was sent to the Minnesota facility to repair some damaged wing feathers in March after being treated by the National Zoo and a rehabilitation center in Washington, D.C. (See “How an Injured Snowy Owl Got New Feathers.”)




After receiving prosthetic feathers at the Minnesota facility, the bird was banded for identification purposes and returned to the wild in April. According to news reports, the snowy owl was able to hunt and live successfully for about a month after its release before someone found it dead by the side of the road. They turned the body over to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which stored the owl in a freezer until officials notified the Raptor Center last week.

The center hopes to perform a necropsy to determine the exact cause of death.

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Jane J. Lee is a news writer and editor at National Geographic.

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