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Snowy Owl Set Free After Being Hit By SUV

This is a photo of the Snowy Owl that recovered at Willowbrook Wildlife Center. (Willowbrook Wildlife Center)

This is a photo of the Snowy Owl that recovered at Willowbrook Wildlife Center. (Willowbrook Wildlife Center)

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GLEN ELLYN, Ill. (CBS) — Monday was flight day for a snowy owl whose journey spanned the Arctic, a car collision, rehab, and now, freedom.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, wildlife keeper Sean Kendall says the snowy owl slammed into the grille of a sport-utility vehicle Nov. 30.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

“It was actually stuck in the grille of a Ford Escape, and it was removed by a police officer and brought to Willowbrook,” said Kendall, of the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn.

Kendall says it is remarkable that the bird survived impact, with the SUV traveling 55 mph.

“It broke its collarbone. It broke a couple of ribs. It had trauma to where one of its eyes was swollen shut. But fortunately, those are all things that can heal quickly,” he said.

Kendall agrees it was exciting to receive such a rare creature, but staff had to take a very hands-off approach to the owl’s rehabilitation.

“You still have to remember you have to leave it alone, and it needs to be isolated,” he told CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole.

As its bones mended, keepers slowly transferred the owl to a series of cages, keeping track of the patient’s progress as she regained her ability to fly. Based on progress they observed, Willowbrook Wildlife Center has decided it was time for the owl to resume her journey and life in the wild.

The owl was released at noon Monday, and she did not hesitate to take flight — hopefully winging her way back to the Arctic Circle.

If the snowy owl looks familiar, it’s because she’s the same type of owl used in the Harry Potter films.