PHOTOS: DC snowy owl in stable condition after accident - KMSP-TV

PHOTOS: DC snowy owl in stable condition after accident

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Photo by City Wildlife Photo by City Wildlife

The snowy owl apparently hit by a city bus near the White House early Thursday remains in stable condition at a wildlife rehab center in Northeast D.C.

The wildlife biologists taking care of the owl say more tests are needed before they are sure it can be set free.

"It's hard to tell, just from looking at a picture, the health of an animal," says David Mizejewski of the National Wildlife Federation. "Particularly when they've had a trauma like getting hit by a bus. Because there could be all sorts of internal injuries. Birds have hallow bones -- it helps them fly. And so they're particularly fragile."

Experts believe it’s a female and still not out of the woods just yet.

It is receiving pain medication and antibiotics. But there is a concern she was feasting on poisoned rats.

"The rodents that they get out in the wilderness are not poisoned," says Anne Lewis, president of City Wildlife, the organization caring for the owl. "Because they're not near people who want to poison them. So the risk is greater in McPherson Square that there will be rodenticide poisoning."

The first snowy owl sighting in the nation's capital this winter was back on Christmas Eve.

Darrly Wilson pulled out his camera phone the other day when he saw the owl perched above the nearby CVS.

"I was shocked, for one," Wilson says. "I had never seen an owl before. And then to just see it down here in this park ... it just totally blew me away."

Snowy owls are a protected species. Why here? Why now?

"Every so often," Mr. Mizejewski says, "there's sort of a population boom up in the arctic, and in the winter time, all of the many baby owls that were born last summer kind of spread out and head south and they will show up in places like D.C."

They have also been found as far south as Florida.

"They like to hunt on the grassy medians for rodents and other small animals," naturalist Mizejewski adds. "And they'll swoop down across the road and they often times get hit. So this particular owl is extremely lucky to have survived getting hit by that bus."

And if well enough to be released one day, ideally lucky enough to follow the stars -- and make her way back home.

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