Did you see the owl? No, not the bundled-up little one in the Rockefeller Christmas tree; not the barred owl that was just weeks ago the most exciting avian celebrity in Central Park since the Hot Duck. There’s a new new owl, just dropped today, in what is starting to feel like a year of hoots in New York City: a stately long-eared owl was spotted in the park today, much to the excitement of followers of city birders.
Is there some sort sort of Hogwarts-ian thing going on in Central Park? Turns out it’s not magic: 11 out of New York State’s 12 species do show up in the city every once in a while. A wide-ranging species, the long-eared owl winters in East Coast states, including New York. Owls are tough to spot in general, and long-eared owls are particularly difficult to lay eyes on, but you can watch the Manhattan Bird Alert Twitter feed for sighting reports or head out for one of the upcoming owl walks led by the Bronx’s own bird expert, Robert DeCandido. The long-eared ones (those are tufts of feathers, not actual ears, by the way) are arriving right on time, too. If you’re an avid birder, they offer a moment of constancy in an inconstant year.