Snowy owl is on the mend

Photo provided by Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia A snowy owl that spent time in Wood County was recovering Monday in Morgantown.

MORGANTOWN — The snowy owl that caught the attention of Wood County residents is alert and eating well at the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia in Morgantown, a veterinarian said Monday.

The young male owl, believed to be 7 to 8 months old, has gained weight and is reseasonably well, said Dr. Jesse Fallon, director of veterinary medicine at the avian center.

“He is on the mend, doing OK,” Fallon said.

The snowy owl was admitted to the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia on Thursday after officials determined the owl had been hit by a car, suffering a right wing injury, more than two weeks ago, Fallon said.

The bird was first spotted in Wood County in late November or early December, Fallon said, and spent time along Grand Central Avenue in Vienna.

In consultation with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources it was determined that the owl should be removed from the wild in order to recover, Fallon said. It would have been difficult for the owl to survive without assistance.

The owl was grabbed by avian center officials on Thursday after it left its perch on a pole in Vienna.

Fallon said he hopes the owl can be released “at some point,” perhaps in four to six weeks.

The owl is being fed 106 grams of food a day, mostly mice, quail and rats. The owl weighed 1,460 grams on Monday, compared to 1,100 grams at admission.

The avian center staff is making sure the owl does not become overheated by keeping it outside in cooler temperatures, Fallon said.

The snowy owl breeds in the Arctic region and does not typically travel this far south, Fallon said.

The avian center said about four snowy owls have been spotted in West Virginia this year.

On Sunday, the avian center posted the following information on its Facebook page: “So far the owl has eaten everything we’ve offered him, including the medicated rodents. This is good news — it means we don’t have to handle him (and cause him stress) to administer medication. The owl has been receiving antibiotics, prophylactic anti-fungals, and pain medication.”