Rescued snowy owl in Illinois going to Alaska

In this photo taken March 29, 2012, Jenny Walther, a second year veterinary student, holds a snowy owl named Qigiq at the at the University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic in Urbana,. Ill., as Dr. Julia Whittington checks out the bird. Qigiq was rescued from a field in Tolono, Ill., after being injured last January. The owl will be flown this weekend to the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, Alaska, to undergo the kind of rehab that will get him ready to re-enter the wild. (AP Photo/The News-Gazette, Vanda Bidwell) MANDATORY CREDIT

URBANA, Ill. — Caregivers of an injured snowy owl rescued from a central Illinois field earlier this year say the bird has recovered and will be sent to Alaska this weekend.


The owl, named Qigiq (kwig ICK’), will be flown to the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka. University of Illinois surgeon Dr. Julia Whittington tells The News-Gazette ( ) that the owl will undergo rehabilitation to prepare him to re-enter the wild after an injury.

Qigiq was found staying in one place in a field for several days. He was brought to the wildlife clinic with a broken humerus bone in his left wing. Whittington repaired the bird’s broken wing after he was found in the Tolono field last January and brought to the University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic.

“When he came to us, he was very thin and very dehydrated,” Whittington said.

Since then the year-and-half old bird has recovered. Qigiq has started flying in his smaller cage at the university clinic, Whittington said, but in Alaska there will be more room for him.

“They already have a large, eagle-sized cage ready for him,” she said.

Snowy owls aren’t common in Illinois but there were reports of five owls this winter. Whittington says some of the birds may have migrated south for more territory and food.

If Qigiq is unable to make it into the wild the Alaska Raptor Center will ask for federal permission to keep him as an educational bird, Whittington said.


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