New Yorkers were treated to a once in a lifetime visit from a snowy owl, a species that hadn’t been seen in Central Park in over a century.
The white raptor wasn’t as well camouflaged as it is at home in the Arctic, which is its normal summer home. The species migrates south in search of food in the Winter, but no one expected to see the bright white feathers on a baseball field with the Manhattan skyline in the background.
David Barrett, who runs a popular Twitter page, Manhattan Bird Alert, was the first to report the sighting, calling it “perhaps the first-ever documented record of this species in the park.”
His tweet on January 27 alerted a throng of birders who stayed behind a fence to give the majestic predator plenty of space.
“Yesterday’s snow and cold to our north likely encouraged this SNOWY OWL to fly south in search of better hunting conditions,” Barrett says.
“These owls like flat lands and beaches, so the Central Park North Meadow, flat and with sand-filled fields, might have appealed.”
Snowy Owl was the center of attention today in Central Park and ready to play ball.. ⚾️ Thanks @BirdCentralPark for the alerts. #birdcp #WildlifeWednesday #birding Big thanks @gigi_nyc for messaging me and @VenusNabs pic.twitter.com/p42QG7ve1d
— RosEspinosa Quinto (@mitzgami) January 28, 2021
The appearance is not due to the pandemic, as some would surmise. Snowy owls have been spotted on Governors Island in the NY harbor near Brooklyn throughout the last decade.
However, with more people outside leisurely strolling during the lockdowns, more birds than ever are being reported on wildlife apps and on social media.
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No snowy owl glimpses have been reported in the park over the last 2 days. Maybe it is checking out the nearby island—but with snow in the forecast, it might be back.
WATCH David’s sweet video…
Yesterday’s SNOWY OWL in the Central Park North Meadow, a once-in-a-lifetime sight. pic.twitter.com/SaCpWJbAIX
— Manhattan Bird Alert (@BirdCentralPark) January 28, 2021
FLY This Beautiful Sighting to Your Flock on Social Media…