It is with a heavy heart that I report to you that Philly the Snowy Owl, who captured our attention with his inability to keep away from Philadelphia International, has been killed. In the end, it was a UPS cargo jet that did him in.
Philly died early this morning, with researchers getting the news via the GPS device with which they saddled the beloved snowy owl. Their worst fears had been realized—though they tried to get Philly to stay away from those dangerous airplanes, even going so far as to capture him and truck him back to Lancaster County, the bond was too strong. But, ultimately, Philly died doing what he loved.
“We knew going into this winter’s tracking research that we were likely to lose some of our tagged owls,” bird bander Scott Weidensaul told Lancaster Online. “Most of them are juveniles, and that inexperience combined with the natural naivete of snowy owls can be a dangerous combination.”
And dangerous it was, but that doesn’t mean Philly’s surrogate family isn’t feeling it. Rest easy, though, Philadelphians—in owl heaven, there are no UPS cargo planes, the rodents are plentiful and slow, and Snowy will never, ever get taken back to Lancaster County ever again. He is in a better place—better than the Philly airport, anyway.