The snowy owl that charmed the nation’s capital when he perched himself in downtown Washington, and then worried the nation’s capital when he was hit by a bus a few days later, has died.
Though the cause of death is uncertain, he probably was hit by a vehicle, according to the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center in St. Paul, which specializes in the medical care, rehabilitation and conservation of owls.
The center, to which the owl was sent to after the D.C. bus accident, said Friday that the snowy owl’s body had been found on the shoulder of a Minnesota highway.
“It is always difficult when we receive news such as this,” it said in a statement. “Urban landscape challenges such as buses, methane burners and roadways can prove hazardous to all types of wildlife, owls included.”
The snowy owl first gained widespread media attention when he perched outside of the Washington Post’s headquarters in January.
After the bus accident, the owl was rescued by D.C. police and eventually taken to City Wildlife, a rehabilitation center for wild animals.
In March, he was sent to the Raptor Center, where his damaged wing feathers were replaced in a special procedure.
The owl was released back into the wild April 19, after meeting the center’s physical benchmarks.
The bird’s body was “found in good condition, indicating the owl was successfully hunting,” the center said.
Rehabilitators at City Wildlife were saddened by the news.
“It’s always difficult for rehabilitators when animals that have been released die,” said Paula Goldberg, executive director of City Wildlife. “All of us here are taking comfort in the fact that this bird was released and had a few hopefully glorious months in the wild where it belonged."