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“Most of us, including me, thought the bird was a female from the beginning, but I had my suspicions,” said wildlife rehabilitator Carlton Burke, who rescued the owl Dec. 9 and has been nursing him back to health in Mills River.
Adult male snowy owls are often completely white, to help camouflage them in their normal arctic habitat, while females sport distinctive barring on their feathers. But immature snowy owls of both sexes can have barred plumage, Burke said, making their gender harder to ascertain.