LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A rare snowy owl found its way to Louisville, only to end up bruised, battered and in bad shape on the interstate. Now, the majestic bird is being nursed back to health.

Ashley Albright was driving on Interstate 64 when she noticed something unusual on the side of the road.

"I had never seen a snowy owl in person, but that's initially what I thought it was," she said. "But I kept going. I decided, ultimately, to turn around on Grinstead."  

When she got out of her car, her suspicions were correct: Albright had indeed found a snowy owl on the side of a busy roadway. But this one was starving, injured and scared. She said she knew something was wrong.

"He looked at me like 'I need help,'" Albright said.

She decided to turn on her phone camera and start recording. She had no intention of using the video to get attention. She said she started recording, because she knew she was in a dangerous situation with being on the side of the interstate. She said if a vehicle had hit her, she wanted people to know why she was out of her car.

Albright carefully approached the bird, but he flew off toward traffic. Albright said he hit a windshield and circled back around to the side of the road again. Once he landed, she tried again to approach him, this time with success. She wrapped him in a blanket and took him back to her car. She quickly thought to call Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky Inc., and they had already received a call about the bird and were on their way. 

Once the owl was in Raptor Rehab's care, they quickly started treatment. Assistant Director Lauren Jackson said the bird suffered vision loss in his right eye and a severe cut on its ankle. He was also starving and scared. She said in less than a week, his eye is blind but less bloody, his cut is healing, and he is back on solid food.

"I'm absolutely thrilled," Jackson said. "We have to stay cautiously optimistic, but I'm very happy with the turnaround he has had, and hopefully he will continue on the road to recovery."

Albright said she has loved following the bird's progress on Raptor Rehabilitation's Facebook page and hopes to soon reunite with the bird. Jackson said the bird has yellow and green on its feathers right now because of medicine, but she hopes he quickly recovers so everyone can admire the its beautiful white feathers.

Snowy owls are from the tundra, but Jackson said this one came south to look for food. Unfortunately, the birds will flock to roadways for it. 

"The medians and the grassy areas on ramps usually have pretty good populations of rodents, mice moles, voles," she said. "And so they find a food source, and they like to stick to it."

Jackson said they call the bird #373, which signifies that he's the 373rd bird they have rescued this year. They are hopeful he will fully recover and eventually be released. She said they do not like to name the birds, because they do not want to get attached, which she said is hard because this bird in particular is a very special bird to see in Kentucky.

Raptor Rehabilitation is a non-profit organization that relies on donations to help care for injured birds like the rare Snowy Owl. Donations can be made through through their website.

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