Barry the Barred Owl flew into the heart of New York City in October 2020, instantly becoming a celebrity in Central Park. But the Central Park Conservancy announced Friday that Barry died after being hit by one of its maintenance vehicles overnight.
The TNC said in a statement that Barry had been flying low, probably while looking for food, when he “made contact” with a maintenance vehicle around 2:30 am Friday. Staff reported the incident and contacted the Urban Park Rangers.
“The presence of the Barred Owl in Central Park brought so much joy, reminding us all that the park is a vital green space for all New Yorkers, including the wildlife that call it home,”
Barry the Barred Owl Age
Barry, the Barred Owl‘s age is unknown.
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Last October, a barred owl appeared in Ramble, the forested section of Central Park just north of the lake, and crowds of bird watchers gathered at their favorite hemlock tree like it was a hot new bakery. At a time when many in the city turned to birds and the urban outdoors, Barry, as people called the owl, became a part celebrity and part mascot, the most recognizable bird in the park since the 2018 Hot Duck.
Barred owls are not uncommon, even in the city, but unlike the snowy owl that thrilled bird watchers in Central Park for a while before moving on, Barry stuck around. But just a year after his arrival, the owl’s reign over Central Park has come to an end: he was killed by a vehicle in the early hours of Friday morning. 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 attempting to detail what happened: “The barred owl contacted a Conservancy maintenance vehicle at approximately 2:30 a.m.” But this sounds a bit like the avian version of “shooting with agents involved.” Did Barry hit the truck? Did the truck hit Barry? We will never know. Either way, it’s the end of the oldest birding event in the pandemic. Birds of the tri-state, take note: Central Park needs a new famous bird.
Barry spent the past 10 months being a focal point for New York City bird watchers. Countless photos and videos of Barry have been posted on social media, winning the admiration of both locals and those who live outside the city. Owls are typically nocturnal, but even during the day, many were able to capture Barry splashing in the water and pretending to pose for photos.
The bird also acquired its own Twitter account and, in November, it got a profile in The New York Times. According to the newspaper, Barry was first found on October 9 by a group of bird watchers. Among the group was Robert DeCandido, who has led guided bird walks in Central Park for more than 25 years, according to his website.
DeCandido told the Times that only one or two owls are seen in Central Park each year and that Barry had likely flown into the area from the north.
According to the New York City Parks website, barred owls sleep high up in white pines. When they vocalize, it sounds like they are yelling “Who cooks for you?” They generally hunt at dusk and feed on rodents and small mammals.
Barry fans have expressed their sadness over his death on social media.