PHOTOS: U of M Raptor Center performs surgery on DC's snowy owl - KMSP-TV

PHOTOS: U of M's Raptor Center performs surgery on snowy owl from DC

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

The snowy owl that was struck by a bus in Washington, DC, has been making headlines nationwide, but the bird that captured hearts at the U.S. Capitol and has its own Twitter account is now in Minnesota.

Although the state has seen plenty of snow, a snow-white owl is a rare sight -- but the University of Minnesota was the perch the owl needed to receive an unusual procedure that would allow it to take wing once more.

The year-old owl became something of a celebrity after it was spotted atop several buildings in Washington, DC, earlier this year. Bird watchers even played hooky from work to catch a glimpse of a rare visitor to the East Coast, but DC's feathered friend wasn't quite ready for city life.

"The interesting thing is: snowy owls are usually in the arctic; they aren't used to the potential obstacles down the coast," Lori Arent, clinic manager of the Raptor Center, explained. "Cars, windows, heat sources, buses -- they are more likely to get injured by those because they are not used to navigating around them."

After a run-in with a bus, the bird was taken to the National Zoo for treatment of a head injury. Once the owl was well enough to travel again, the bird landed in Minnesota for a feather transplant. Veterinarians at the Raptor Center employed a process called "imping," which involved using bamboo to connect 18 replacement feathers to damaged shafts on the birds' wings and tail in the hopes that it would soon be able to fly again.

The veterinarians at the Raptor Center specialize in techniques like imping, and there are only a few places in the nation that can perform such surgeries. News of the procedure spread quickly on social media, with the bird allegedly tweeting, "So I'm at the U of Minnesota. I hear they have some delicious Golden Gophers. I like a good hearty meal before I fly North."

Yet, the owl likely won't be ready to take flight right away -- and if the Twitter account is any indication, the bird isn't trying to rush the recovery, tweeting, "Keep your talons crossed for my speedy release, but it may be a few more weeks before DC's snowy owl is ready to return to the skies."

The Raptor Center staff told Fox 9 News the snowy owl is recovering well from Tuesday's procedure. They hope to try a test flight by the end of next week and then develop an exercise program to strengthen the birds flight muscles prior to its release.

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