It’s tough to impress a New Yorker, but birders there were positively a flutter Wednesday when a Snowy Owl was spotted hanging around Central Park.
Manhattan Bird Alert sent out the notice shortly before 9 am, which naturally sent bird nerds flocking to see the unusual sight so far south.
A SNOWY OWL, a mega-rarity for Central Park, is now in the middle of the North Meadow ballfields.— Manhattan Bird Alert (@BirdCentralPark) January 27, 2021
The photos people snapped of the beautiful owl in this most odd setting were incredible.
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
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
Also on hand, Central Park’s Urban Park Rangers to control crowds.
And as the Manhattan Bird Alert group put it, to “educate people about this wondrous visitor from the north!”
The Central Park North Meadow SNOWY OWL continues, viewed by many delighted and respectful admirers now. pic.twitter.com/7Qy1xWYGgL— Manhattan Bird Alert (@BirdCentralPark) January 27, 2021
Rangers even set up a scope to help those without telephoto lenses capture images of the owl.
Probably 100 people enjoyed some Midtown bird watching over the course of several hours.
Important: do not approach this Central Park SNOWY OWL closely! Respect the fenced-off area on which it is resting. Stay OFF the ballfields. It is safe from disturbance and might linger if everyone remains distant.— Manhattan Bird Alert (@BirdCentralPark) January 27, 2021
And people did keep a respectful distance .
The SNOWY OWL of the Central Park North Meadow was not much bothered by the crows that gathered around it earlier and that have now returned. People are staying behind distant fences and being quiet and respectful. pic.twitter.com/BKjGPRiKCZ— Manhattan Bird Alert (@BirdCentralPark) January 27, 2021
David Barrett, who runs the popular social media account, suggested that Tuesday’s snow and cold to the north likely encouraged this northern 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,” he tweeted.
While the Snowy Owl range can extend down to New York in winter, it’s certainly a rare sight.
So rare, in fact, Manhattan Bird Alert dug up records reporting that a Snowy Owl hadn’t been seen in Central Park since 1890. Yes, 1890.
Though there was a reliable report of a SNOWY OWL in Central Park in December 1890, today's owl seems to be, as we tweeted, the first *documented* with photos and certainly the first seen by many. pic.twitter.com/k2F1cb2I1k— Manhattan Bird Alert (@BirdCentralPark) January 27, 2021
The bird hung around long enough to be pestered by some crows, a red-tailed hawk and a Cooper’s hawk.
The interactions also created some memorable images in urban wildlife adventures.
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
Snowy Owl vs. American Crows at the CP North Meadow pic.twitter.com/jOenPP7SCc— MattBiggs (@Mattbiggs) January 27, 2021
An unforgettable experience seeing this Snowy Owl in Central Park today. Love its feathery feet. Shots capture one of the many times it was being harassed by a Red-Tailed Hawk. Many thanks to @BirdCentralPark for the alert. 💜🦉#birdcp pic.twitter.com/Nne9yjACeI— JacquelineUWS (@jacquelineUWS) January 27, 2021
An American Crow does a double take – is that really a Snowy Owl or a mirage? A bucket list item for myself and likely the crow. What a sight today in the CP North Meadow ballfields. #birdcp pic.twitter.com/nFeBHw3eX9— Howard Katz (@HK7682) January 27, 2021
People were unbelievably grateful to get the alert.
Snowy owl in Central Park!!!!! Spent my lunch today (27Jan2021) ogling this beauty with the throng of fellow birding paparazzi. #birdcp #birdnerd #snowyowl #nikonphotography pic.twitter.com/XxWS2flUEW— EJ Bartolazo (@ejbarto1) January 28, 2021
Since, well, it might not happen for another 130 years.
Central Park Snowy Owl (1st in 130 years? )— Richard Nelson (@Richard36971987) January 27, 2021
Sequence from same Coopers & Red Tail Hawk
intimidation fly-bye's as others saw, otherwise
Snowy unperturbed by nuisance of loud Crows.
Thanks MBA for the excuse to cut out from work 🙂@BirdCentralPark pic.twitter.com/CaPNQFyYAi
Main Photo: Manhattan Bird Alert/Twitter