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Tundra The Snowy Owl | Community Spirit

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Tundra The Snowy Owl

A snowy owl hit by a car near the town of Davenport is being treated at the Washington State University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital. A world-renowned snowy owl expert says the owl, named Tundra, is part of a phenomenon nationwide unlike anything ever recorded.  With hand-fed meals, a bowl of ice and a fan to keep him cool, the Arctic visitor just might call the Palouse his new home.

Washington Fish and Wildlife Officer Curt Wood found Tundra when someone reported the little guy hopping along the road near Davenport.  Wood says he considered killing Tundra when he noticed he had a broken wing, but says the bird's beauty convinced him not to.

"The owl was very beautiful, and it just looked at me with those big yellow eyes, blinking them from time to time," he said. "It seemed to be totally at ease with me, as if it knew that I was going to save it, so I didn't have the heart to put it down."

Tundra made his way to Pullman where vets determined he had a broken wing and dislocated shoulder.  He's now being treated at the veterinary hospital's ward for wildlife and exotic animals.  Tundra's neighbors include a giant bearded dragon and a lime green Amazon parrot.

The National Audubon Society says snowy owls have been seen perched on fence posts, roosting atop chimneys, assembled in fields and even along beaches across the U.S. since November.  Wildlife Biologist Denver Holt says the sightings are unprecedented.  He says it's not unusual for snowies to migrate south, but not in such large numbers and not to so many places.

 "The last time we saw an irruption of snowy owls was in 2005-2006," he said. "We might hear about a ton of them in the Northeast, but not everywhere, as what's happening now."

Contrary to some media reports, snowy owls aren't showing up because of a lemming rodent shortage in Alaska and Canada, said Holt. Instead, a population boom is forcing the youngsters out.

No matter the reason, WSU's vet school is happy Tundra is calling the Palouse home.

Video Courtesy: Washington State University.

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