MARQUETTE — Jerry Maynard and Bob Jensen are used to dealing with Snowy Owls, but their recent situation with the bird specie left them and others a bit puzzled.

“This is the fourth year that we’ve been in operation as the Chocolay Raptor Center. We’ve had one Snowy Owl every year before this year,” said Jerry Maynard, Co–Founder of the Chocolay Raptor Center. “This year we got six in. The researchers have no idea why they came down so early this year.”

Snowy Owls typically migrate south in December, not October. The Chocolay Raptor Center took in six severely malnourished Snowy Owls that weighed just 2 lbs. They normally weigh about 4 lbs.

“They were literally starving to death,” said Maynard. “The four that we weren’t able to save were just too far gone. We did tube feeding of slurry with mostly water with a little bit of nutrients, which is mostly digestible. We put a tube down into the bird’s stomach and we did that for about 24 hours until they were rehydrated. That gave them a little bit of energy. Then we were able to start feeding them solids.”

Maynard and Jensen rehabbed the birds for about five weeks. The Snowy Owls were released Sunday afternoon at the Gentz Golf Club. More than 200 people showed up to see the birds take off.

“The support from the community in everything that we do has been fantastic,” Maynard added. “We greatly appreciate it and the birds appreciate it.”

“It’s just a thrill, number one, to handle the birds and be able to save them,” said Maynard. “When you see them released after they were almost dead, it makes it all worthwhile.”