A snowy owl that has delighted denizens of Washington, D.C., with surprise appearances on ledges, awnings, and tree branches is recovering after apparently being hit by a bus early this morning, Smithsonian National Zoo officials announced.
Veterinarians at the zoo have treated the bird, which was first discovered by Metropolitan Police, and then brought to the zoo by the National Zoological Police.
"Upon arrival, the snowy owl was alert and responsive by subdued. There were no obvious physical injuries but there was blood on the bird," zoo officials said in a statement. "Upon further examination, blood was found in the mouth which is consistent with suspected head trauma."
Zoo veterinarians believe the owl to be female, because of its larger size and darker coloring. It was provided pain medication and placed in a comfortable, quiet atmosphere before being picked up by City Wildlife, a city-affiliated animal organization.
A spokeswoman for City Wildlife says it is currently assessing the owl's condition. They hope to release the owl into the wild as soon as possible.
Snowy owls, native to the arctic, have been migrating south in record numbers this year, with sightings reported as far south as Jacksonville, Fla.
The Washington owl had captivated residents of the city, many of whom had spent the last week gawking at the bird as it appeared on park benches and building ledges.