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Rescued snowy owl released in Marquette

Feb 20, 2018 09:25AM ● By Editor

BOB JENSEN, CO-FOUNDER of the Chocolay Raptor Center, holds a snowy owl before its release near the Superior Dome. The owl was rehabilitated at the center after being found on a road near Bark River in December. (Christie Bleck/Journal photo)

From the Daily News - February 19, 2018

MARQUETTE — The snowy owl that was released back into the wild Saturday afternoon near the Superior Dome in Marquette wasn’t exactly as “huggable” as the bird was when it was first found, its rescuer noted.

But that was a good thing.

A large crowd gathered east of the Dome to watch staff from the Chocolay Raptor Center, based in Harvey, release a female snowy owl that had been under its care since December.

Lynn Erickson found the owl on a road near Bark River on Dec. 22.

Center cofounder Jerry Maynard introduced Erickson to the crowd Saturday as “the lady who intrepidly rescued this bird and took it home in her lap on a car with no gloves, no protection, because she didn’t want to leave it in the road where she found it.”

Erickson said she saw the owl on the road, not moving. She then noticed a car heading toward the bird.

The car must have bumped the owl, Erickson said, because it had a grease spot on its head and wing when she got back to the bird.

“When I touched her back, she came right up with my hand, and I thought to myself, ‘Now what do I do?” Erickson said.

Erickson picked it up and called the Raptor Center.

They found the owl, dubbed Faith, was malnourished. “It’s a good thing they brought the bird up immediately,” Maynard said.

Maynard said this is an irruption year for snowy owls, meaning they are traveling south from the Arctic region in larger numbers than normal.

As far north as it is, though, the Upper Peninsula still is quite the trek.

“Some of them, especially if they’re young birds, by the time they cross Lake Superior and get to the U.P., they’ve just exhausted everything — all their reserves — and they’re emaciated and they’re dehydrated,” Maynard said.

In the two months or so the center has had her, the bird regained strength, most recently flying back and forth in the center’s big flight cage.

Faith’s weight also increased from 1,200 grams to 2,200 grams, which Maynard called the proper range for a big female snowy. A male, on the other hand, typically weighs about 1,500 grams.

“She is not the kind that you can hug anymore,” Erickson said after seeing the owl before the release Saturday.

Onlookers could tell it was a feisty bird, with the box in which it was kept moving back and forth.

After co-founder Bob Jensen let the crowd take photographs, the bird was released.

And so the “unhuggable” bird flew off toward Lake Superior.

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