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Snowy owl to act as ambassador for species in Vermont

Plate 121 of the Birds of America by John James Audubon, depicting the Snowy Owl 1827-1838
University of Pittsburgh via Wikicommons

Tundra, the snowy owl injured during an unscheduled landing at NY’s La Guardia Airport, is now on his way to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, where he will act as an ambassador for his species.

Believed to have been caught in a jet backdraft, which broke his wing, Tundra has been recuperating at the Volunteers for Wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center in Lattingtown (Long Island) since December. Because his wing had to be repaired with pins, Tundra is no longer able to survive on his own in the wild.

Snowy owls (made famous by Hedwig in the HarryPotter series) are the heaviest owls in North America, generally weighing between 4-6 lbs, and standing 2-feet tall. Adult males are (virtually) pure white, while females and young birds have some dark scalloping. The young are “heavily barred,” and exhibit a lot of dark spotting.

Although they generally nest in the Arctic tundra of the northernmost stretches of Alaska, Canada, and Eurasia, many have been spotted wintering as far south as Texas, Georgia and the Gulf states, with large flocks now seen on Long Island beaches and airports (which resemble the Arctic’s wide-open spaces to the birds). In fact, Southampton Town Bay Constable Danielle McManus reported spotting 7 along the dunes at Shinnecock Inlet to Westhampton Beach in one hour last December.

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