Last October, a barred owl showed up in the Ramble, the woodsy section of Central Park just north of the lake, and crowds of birders gathered at its preferred hemlock tree like it was a hot new bakery. At a time when many in the city turned to birding and the urban outdoors, Barry, as people called the owl, became part celebrity, part mascot — the most recognizable bird in the park since the Hot Duck of 2018. Barred owls aren’t uncommon, even in the city, but unlike the snowy owl that thrilled birders in Central Park for a time before moving on, Barry stuck around. But just shy of a year after its arrival, the owl’s reign over Central Park has come to an end — he was killed by a vehicle in the early morning hours on Friday. Hit by a car! What could be a more New York death than that?
The Central Park Conservancy announced the owl’s death in a tweet that tries to detail what happened: “The barred owl made contact with a Conservancy maintenance vehicle at approximately 2:30 a.m.” But this sounds a bit like the avian version of “officer-involved shooting.” Did Barry hit the truck? Did the truck hit Barry? We’ll never know. Either way, it’s the end of the longest-standing birding event of the pandemic. Birds of the tristate, take note: Central Park needs a new celebrity bird.