The owl was apparently last seen and recorded way back in 1890.
Human activity has led to the extinction of many animal species. Continous conservation efforts, on the other hand, has helped bring back many species from disappearing completely. While this is easy to do for animals we are familiar with, it gets tricky when it comes to those animals that are elusive. The vulnerable Snowy Owl made a rare appearance at New York's Central Park, much to the delight of avid birdwatchers and other people who happened to be in the park at the time. CBS New York reported that experts have stated that a Snowy Owl hasn’t been seen here in more than a century.
Oh, hello! The SNOWY OWL is still on the west side of the Central Park North Meadow near 98th Street. pic.twitter.com/9uhW1cTeDC— Manhattan Bird Alert (@BirdCentralPark) January 27, 2021
A Snowy Owl was apparently last seen and recorded way back in 1890. On Wednesday, the fluffy owl was spotted on a baseball field in the park’s North Meadow. You may have seen a Snowy Owl as Hedwig in the Harry Potter series. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has identified the bird population as vulnerable with a decreasing population. The birds can be found predominantly across the Arctic regions from western Scandinavia through northern Russia to Alaska (USA), northern Canada, and Greenland (Denmark.) In winter, the birds move further south into the US, northern Europe, and North Asia. Snowy Owls are also bred occasionally in Iceland and the UK.
"It’s a mega-rarity," Kellye Rosenheim, the director of development at New York City Audubon told the Gothamist. "This is a very important sighting. It’s extremely rare in Manhattan." The rare sighting of the owl attracted a crowd of over 100 people to the park that included enthusiastic bird watchers. David Barrett, who runs the Manhattan Bird Alert account tweeted, “Yesterday’s snow and cold to our north likely encouraged this Snowy Owl to fly south in search of better hunting conditions. These owls like flat lands and beaches, so the Central Park North Meadow, flat and with sand-filled fields, might have appealed.”
New York Daily News reported that a few random crows briefly crowding the newcomer, who also happens to be a predator for crows before things settled down. In addition to their natural enemies, the owl potentially had the danger of being disturbed by the curious humans who were gathering around it. “We got a lot of frantic phone calls from people worried about the safety of the bird,” Molly Adams, advocacy and outreach manager for the New York City Audubon Society said. “We called New York Parks to send some urban park rangers to keep people 200 to 300 feet away.” For the most part, the crowd remained well-behaved and were maintained by the rangers.
Eventful day in Central Park with the arrival of a Snowy Owl! The crows kept a wary eye on the owl. So did a Cooper's Hawk which did several swoops over the owl and tried to ruffle it's feathers. But the owl stood it's ground. @BirdCentralPark #birdcp pic.twitter.com/nQ9UGlLyvD— SJE (@easwar_suresh) January 27, 2021
Yijia Chen, a student at New York University said spotting a Snowy Owl was on his bucket list and put off a pile of work to come to see the owl. "You don’t get to see the snowy owl in New York City," he said. "I saw it and I was like I had to come." Other bird enthusiasts have managed to spot the owl around Jones Beach. Chen hasn't yet made the trip because he doesn't have a car. The non-profit, Audubon Society stated, “During some winters, large numbers of snowy owls appear south of the Canadian border. Those that stop in towns and cities invariably cause a stir and attract media attention.” Like this owl did in New York.