NEW YORK – People strolling through New York City’s Central Park on Wednesday were treated to a rare sight — a snowy owl, which had not been seen in the park in 130 years.
The bird was spotted on a baseball field in the park, and pictures of the rare raptor flooded social media, WABC reported. When a snowy owl last appeared in Central Park, Hugh J. Grant was the mayor of New York. The city has had 23 mayors since then.
In March 1891, the Linnaean Society of New York City reported that a snowy owl was spotted in New York City’s Central Park in December 1890. According to The New York Times, the account from the society reported that it was part of an “unusual abundance” of the bird, which makes its home in the Arctic tundra.
“A snowy owl, a mega-rarity for Central Park,” Barrett tweeted, “is now in the middle of the North Meadow ball fields.”
Birders flocked to Central Park, the Times reported, making the young female raptor the latest celebrity bird in Manhattan.
“Thrilled to share the excitement with fellow birders!!” Twitter boysenberry45 tweeted.
Wildlife experts said it is unusual to see a snowy owl in New York City, WNBC reported. They are more likely to be seen on the beaches of Long Island, the television station reported.
Experts added that Wednesday was the first time there had been photographic evidence of the bird in the city.
”Seeing the snowy owl is like winning the lottery,” Molly Adams, of the New York City Audubon Society, told WABC.
Kellye Rosenheim, the director of development at the city’s Audubon Society, said it is important not to disturb the bird.
“You’ve got to keep a respectful distance,” Rosenheim told WNBC. “They’re easily spooked and it is absolutely essential to their survival that they’re able to rest during the day.”
Some enthusiasts criticized Manhattan Bird Alert for revealing the bird’s exact whereabouts to 38,000 followers.
“Tweeting the locations of a snowy owl to a follower base with a long history of harassing owls is a great look, man,” a Twitter user named Aidan Place wrote.
The snowy owl had left the park by Thursday morning, the Times reported.
Barrett, a retired hedge fund manager who started the Manhattan Bird Alert account in 2013, said he was performing a public service.
“If you want people to care about nature, you should show them that it’s there and let them appreciate it for themselves,” Barrett told the Times.
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