Saturday, January 30, 2021

Snowy Owl In Central Park

I wonder if climate change has anything to do with snowy owls being seen more often outside of their normal Great White North habitat. I've only seen one up close a few times. It's an impressive sight. Recently a snowy owl briefly visited NYC and caused a slight commotion. 

In the winter of 1890, a snowy owl was spotted in New York City’s Central Park, part of what a contemporary account called an “unusual abundance” along the East Coast of the large, strikingly beautiful predators that make their home in the Arctic tundra. “Unusual” is right. A snowy owl, according to birding records, did not show its fluffy self in Central Park for another 130 years. Then came Wednesday morning.

A birder who runs the Twitter account Manhattan Bird Alert read about an owl sighting on a tracking site and sounded the alarm. “A SNOWY OWL, a mega-rarity for Central Park,” he wrote, “is now in the middle of the North Meadow ball fields.” The owl also got the attention of the park’s avian residents. A flock of crows flew down to harass her and try to drive her out (owls sometimes eat crows). A red-tailed hawk buzzed over her head (hawks are fiercely territorial and do not abide trespassers).

But the birder behind Manhattan Bird Alert, David Barrett, a retired hedge-fund manager who started the account in 2013, said he was performing a public service and building support for conservation efforts. “If you want people to care about nature,” he said, “you should show them that it’s there and let them appreciate it for themselves.” 

By Thursday morning, the Central Park snowy was nowhere to be found.
“I’m not surprised it moved on,” said Paul Sweet, manager of the ornithology collection at the American Museum of Natural History. “It wasn’t being left alone — it was being quite bothered.” (
He was referring to other birds, not people.)
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