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In wake of Flaco the owl's death, New York City lawmaker working on 2 new bills to protect birds

In wake of Flaco the owl's death, NYC lawmaker working on 2 new bills to protect birds
In wake of Flaco the owl's death, NYC lawmaker working on 2 new bills to protect birds 02:07

NEW YORK -- Flaco, the owl who died last week after crashing into a building, may inspire changes that save other birds.

People were leaving flowers, portraits and notes at the base of the owl's favorite tree in Central Park on Monday.

"In this very tree he loved to hoot," Stella Hamilton said.

READ MOREFlaco, the Eurasian eagle-owl who escaped Central Park Zoo, dies after apparently flying into building, zoo officials say

Flaco first captivated New Yorkers last February after his assisted escape from the Central Park Zoo. Hamilton, who dons a hat embroidered with Flaco's likeness, tracked his every move. She described the experience as incredible.

"He's a very powerful owl, you know? He's a character. He has so much confidence," Hamilton said.

"He just had so much of an impact on park goers, birders alike," added Ronald Lugo of Morningside Heights.

Lugo, a birder himself, shared that Flaco felt like family, and he will cherish the photos he snapped.

"With everything going on in the world, we all need that escapism," Lugo said.

Sadly, news broke Friday night of Flaco's demise. A collision with a building on West 89th Street ended his epic life in the Big Apple.

"It was really quite shocking," said Jessica Wilson, executive director of New York City Audubon.

READ MORENew Yorkers honor beloved owl Flaco in Central Park

But, not unusual according to Wilson, who said collisions with buildings are one of the leading causes of death for birds in the city and nationwide, adding more than 1 billion birds die in the U.S. per year.

"New York City Audubon scientists estimate that in New York City, alone, that number is a quarter million bird deaths," Wilson said.

According to Wilson, there are two causes of collisions -- glass and lights at night.

"Artificial light at night draws birds into urban areas," Wilson said. "The light disorients them, confuses them, makes them more susceptible to collisions with buildings."

To turn Flaco's tragedy into triumph for all birds who call New York City home, Wilson and Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal announced a renewed push for two pieces of legislation sitting in committee in Albany -- The Bird Safe Buildings Act and Dark Skies Protection Act.

"We can do better, and part of what we want to do with these bills is to set new standards that are used in other municipalities and jurisdictions, so that these types of preventable birds strikes don't have to happen," Hoylman-Sigal said.

The Bird Safe Buildings Act has since been renamed The Flaco Act.

"It would require new or remodeled government buildings to use materials that had been demonstrated to reduce these types of collisions," Hoylman-Sigal said.

This would be an addition to the already in place Local Law 15, which requires privately owned new and renovated buildings use bird-friendly glass.

The Dark Skies Protection Act aims to reduce light pollution by requiring outdoor lighting to be covered or limited to certain hours.

"Birds require clean air, clean parks, just like humans do. When you protect birds you make New York City more sustainable for people as well," Wilson said.

Making it more likely stories like Flaco's will continue to delight and amaze the masses for generations to come.

Hoylman-Sigal hopes to get both acts out of committee and voted on by June.

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