Injured snowy owl recovers, to be set back into the wild Wednesday

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Snowy owls do make an appearance in Western New York every winter. But seeing them is rare. Now one wildlife volunteer is doing everything in her power to save one snowy owl’s life.

“Snowy the owl is tough,” that’s what his caregiver says about him.  He survived for more than a week with a broken wing before he was found on a rural road in Cattaraugus County.

He’s a survivor he’s a survivor and hes going to make it,” said Marianne Hites, Wildlife Rehabilitator with Messinger Woods Wildlife Care & Education Center.

Snowy, as she calls him, hungry and sick,  may not have lived much longer, if a law enforcement officer hadn’t brought him to her.

She said, “I got the phone call actually from the Department of Environmental Conservation saying there was a snowy down.”

The bones in his wing were broken, and had become infected. Hites said he was likely hit by a car. She said, “I knew that I was dealing with something that needed vet attention right away.”

He was suffering from severe dehydration and kidney failure, and he needed to be stabilized for several days before surgery to insert pins into his right wing.

Hites said, “In addition to the surgery, the open injury on the wing had been there, they estimated at least a week.”

With extra fluids, antibiotics and a little T.L.C, the open wound healed, and by eating five extra large mice a day, he gained a pound and a half.

Hites said, “He’s our miracle bird. He decided on his own that he was going to make it through it.”

Area students even held fundraisers to help with the high cost of surgery. For Hites, the most amazing moment came when she was able to see him fly.


She said,”To see him just full wing-span, able to cut the corners no problem whatsoever and land was an incredible sight.”


And now that he’s nursed back to health, she said it’s time to let him go. She said, “You look at this bird, and you know he belongs in the wild. It’s a good feeling to let them go, they’re special, they’re very special.”

Hites plans to release Snowy so he can return to the arctic tundra on Wednesday. The DEC will place a band on his leg so he can be tracked after he is released.

If you’d like to help Messinger Woods and their mission to help animals like Snowy, you can find the “Go-Fund-Me” page here. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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