I’m Outta Here


This week’s photo, taken December 8, 2012 in Volunteer Park, Seattle, WA, features the Capitol Hill SNOWY OWL spreading its wings and taking flight. In the background are some of the many onlookers on hand to witness the coming out party of this magnificent creature.

In mid-November a SNOWY OWL is found in Capitol Hill in downtown Seattle. Wildlife rehabilitators believe it is emaciated, so they take it to their wildlife care center, and after fattening it up for 3 1/2 weeks, they announce that they will release the owl close to where it had been picked up.

Saturday morning, a Seattle television station mentions the upcoming event, and a few hundred people gather in the park by 11am. So the owl will have an unobstructed flight path, the care center’s rep asks people to clear space in front, just as golf tournament officials might ask spectators to step back when a golfer is about to tee off.

Everyone wonders what the owl will do when the gate opens. Will it immediately fly away? Will the large crowd cause it to cower in its cage? Will it step outside, give a lengthy speech and sign a few autographs? No doubt, the wildlife center staff are anxious about whether or not the release will go smoothly.

When the handler removes the crate’s wire door, the owl instantly takes one hop out of the box and another hop into the air, as if it’s saying, “I’m outta here.” You can hear the collective gasp of many humans inhaling at the same moment. The owl ends up doing exactly what its handlers hoped it would do. It flies in a straight line over the grassy slope, rises above the tall conifers and quickly disappears from our view, as it begins the next chapter of its life.


About Joe Sweeney

I photograph birds to share the beauty and wonder I find in nature.
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