Watch CBS News

Barred Owl Becomes An Instant Celebrity After Taking Up Residence In Central Park

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A special bird has people peering through the northern part of Central Park to catch a glimpse.

With the help of a birder, we were actually able to spot it Wednesday.

As CBS2's Lisa Rozner reports, the owl of onlookers' eyes was spotted in the Great Hill area of Central Park just before noon Wednesday by David Barrett, who runs the Manhattan Bird Alert Twitter account. He says maybe one or two owls are spotted in the park each year.

"People have seen it bathing in the Loch. They've seen it hunting chipmunks, catching a robin, going after squirrels," Barrett said.

That's unusual for an owl to do during the daytime, because that's when they're usually sleeping.

More: Pigeon Sells For Record $1.9 Million At Auction

The barred owl has been unofficially named "Barry," though no one knows if it's male or female, or its age.

We saw it preening, cleaning its feathers, turning its head and taking a snooze.

First spotted in early October, now whatever it does, it's like a model attracting paparazzi.

"He's a great looking owl," said bird watcher Jeff Gramm.

Extravagant photos were taken by Venus Sallay, who summoned a group of birders Monday after spotting it with her binoculars camouflaged in the branches.

"We went to the hill, we went down and then, finally, it's already about three hours," Sallay said. "It was moving its wings and I said that could not be a hawk... I was just so excited, I called them, I said it's here! It's here!"

Flashback: Rare Mandarin Duck Returns To Central Park

Sallay, a front line nurse, turned to birding for stress relief during the beginning of the pandemic.

Robert DeCandido, known as "Birding Bob," leads night walks, and sometimes plays tapes of a barred owl to lure it closer.

"You'll hear two types of calls," Candido said. "Only God knows where it came from, and only God knows what it's going to do tomorrow."

Bird experts predict it'll stay around for the winter because Central Park, especially this year, is full of rodents, which means Barry is eating well. And if it doesn't find a mate, all the more likely it'll stick around, and likely gain that quarantine 15. Who knows?

The last time an owl gained popularity was in the '90s, near Washington Heights. Onlookers then lovingly named the bird the "Barrio Owl" due to its location.


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.