Mission: To promote the appreciation of wildlife and increase harmony between humanity and nature.

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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Capitol Hill Snowy - Freedom!

After weeks of anticipation the Capitol Hill Snowy Owl was released this morning! Her arrival to Volunteer Park was anticipated by a wide variety of Seattleites. 

The variety extended from Ambre's young son, Loren, who was dressed up as an owl...
(Thank you to Barbara Deihl for this very sweet photo and to see another shot (Click Here). 
...to bird watchers and photographers of both the amateur and professional variety. 

The hundreds of Seattleites at Volunteer Park respectfully left the Snowy Owl a grassy runway to freedom. 

There was a brief introduction.

Thank you to Doug Schurman for this photo and for three other in-flight photos below that display his name.

Then upon release the Snowy immediately took to the air, flying precisely down the middle of the runway.

 Thank you to Joe Sweeney for the next four photos, especially the first two which are so amazingly well balanced.

Her flight to freedom was truly majestic and beautiful. Thanks again to Doug Schurman for the next three photos.

Not surprisingly the Snowy was chased by a few of our Seattle crows. 

Still neither the people nor the crows seemed to bother the owl too much. With calm stately wing strokes she simply pulled up above the trees and disappeared to the northwest. Free at last.

The folks at Sarvey Wildlife Care Center obviously deserve tremendous credit for this rescue and rehabilitation. As this bird took to the air it looked nothing like the sad, hungry, injured bird we saw huddling above the remains of gull a few weeks ago. Today the Capitol Hill Snowy is clearly healthy, strong and ready to find her own way in the world. Thank you to Sarvey WCC, Kestral, Suzanne and all the others who give of their time and love.

As the Snowy flew to freedom the moment was truly magical. For me at least the beauty of the bird exceeded that of the most beautiful artwork. The fact that literally hundreds of people would turn out for this moment tells me there is hope for the future. Maybe we will be able to figure out how to co-exist with nature in a healthy way. The history of Union Bay has numerous examples of abusing nature and also some very special cases of restoration. Will we continue the restoration or the abuse? (If we could clean the water of Arboretum Creek enough for salmon to successfully spawn, it would be a clear indication that we have begun to learn how to co-exist with nature.)

Kestral from Sarvey Wildlife Care Center was surprised that so many people were interested in the Snowy Owl. We the people living around Union Bay have an opportunity to set a new standard for how nature is protected and nurtured within a modern, industrialized city. We have all read the thought, "Think Globally, Act Locally". Restoring Union Bay and Arboretum Creek, is a local opportunity to act. The better the bay is for fish the better it will be for birds and other wildlife as well.

In regards to photographing the Snowy Owl release I looked the wrong direction at the wrong moment and was only able to catch a couple of shots. I would love to publish more of the good photos that others took today. If you would like to see your CHS owl photos added to this post. Please send them to: 


I will give credit to the photographer and will attempt to keep extending this post as long as with photos keep coming. This will be a new experiment so please have patience with the process.

Thank you to all who shared this magical moment. Plus, a very special thanks to Joe Sweeney and Doug Schurman for sharing their exquisite photos!


More Photos:

The following photos are from Brian Cruess and give us another angle on the Snowy. Thank you to Brian!

Thank you to Barbara Deihl for sending in this link to photos of this and another Snowy Owl release.


Barbara also sent in these photo from Caryn Schutzler. Thank you both!!

Here is another link to the story:


Barbara just pointed out two more links to Snowy Owl stories. Thank you! Barbara

In case you missed these...

(Correction:  the owl was found in a residential/business area of Capitol Hill, not in Volunteer Park)




  1. Thank you. Heart rending.

    1. You are welcome. I am thinking that is heart rending in a good way.

  2. Absolutely fabulous.
    Thank you,
    Jane Stewart
    McComb Gardens
    Sequim, WA

  3. Great reporting, Larry. The images on this page are inspirational. Thank you for covering this and for all the positive sentiments you expressed. Just a great job.

    1. Thank you! I feel very lucky to have had this opportunity.

  4. To Larry, the Staff at Sarvey and all the photographers (including the Seattle Times today),

    The pictures were great and the look on the children's faces amazing. to all keep up the good work.

    Katherine and Tom K

    1. I agree the look on the children's faces really tell us all how important it is that we nurture the natural world. Thank you for the thought!

  5. I love this. got me crying. Ultraconservative

    1. We all breathe the air, drink the water and eat the food grown on this planet. Regardless of our political, religious or any other type of belief we should be able to come together around the idea of nurturing nature. Not only is it critical for our survival, it is even more important for the future of our children, all our children. Thank you for caring.

  6. Thank you SO much. Scott Schuldt posted this on a group Occupy Songbirds I created on Facebook. Looking forward to sharing more if your posts. I live close to Seward Park and the Audubon Center there. Good to connect with you.

    1. You are welcome. It as been a bit of a learning experience trying to figure out how to let folks in the Greater Seattle area know about the blog. Union Bay belongs to all of Seattle and is utilized by the whole region. While Union Bay is the focus I do occasionally wander out for other regional nature stories. New ideas, input and connections are welcome. Thank you.

  7. What a joyful end to a truly incredible journey. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing story with us.

    1. You are welcome! We are truly lucky to live in a city with as many parks, nature opportunities and supportive organizations as we have here in Seattle.

    2. Agree totally! That is our treasure here, often overlooked. Thank you so much for your devotion to this episode of the triumph of nature, start to finish, with a little help from we humans!

  8. Wow! What a lovely story (well written Larry!) and gorgeous photos. Wish I could have attended this event but am so thankful you posted the day here. Thanks to everyone who helped rehabilitate the stunning owl!!!

    1. Thank you, Aimee. Stories like this write themselves. Particularly, with such a beautiful,
      star-of-the-show. Happy Holidays!