A young snowy owl brought to the University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic with a broken wing on January 3 is recovering well after two surgeries to repair a fractured left humerus.
The injured owl was brought in by a bird watcher who realized the owl was in trouble after it had not moved normally for a few days. Upon arrival at the clinic, the owl was dehydrated and emaciated and the broken bone was protruding from the wound, most likely caused by being hit by a car.
After the owl had regained strength by being fed a liquid diet for several days, the bird was strong enough to undergo surgery to repair the fracture on January 6. As the bird continued to improve, a second surgery was performed on January 12.
The complete medical history detailing the owl's care can be seen online here: go.illinois.edu/featured_wmc_case. The cost of his care to date is over $2,300; the Wildlife Medical Clinic is a non-profit organization run on donations, so support is greatly appreciated.
"We've really stayed on top of the physical therapy," says Anne Rivas, a veterinary student who co-manages the clinic and who administered most of the owl's care in the first two weeks of its stay at the clinic.
"We hope the fracture heals well, but we are concerned that the elbow may not be fully functional because the break was so near the joint."
To return to the wild, the owl will need to be able to fly several thousand miles, so any wing impairment will limit his chances of survival.
The owl is one of as many as four snowy owls observed wintering in Champaign County this year, an unusual phenomenon that is delighting local birders. Typically snowy owls remain within the Arctic Circle, according to Rivas.
Rivas dubbed the owl "Qigiq," an Inuit name meaning "white hawk that flies in the sky." He is most likely less than a year old.