I finally go up to Central Park and see the great horned owl (bubo virginianus) who’s been visiting the ramble this week. I showed up about an hour before dusk, when the owl flies out to hunt. He (or she) spent a lot of the time puffing up, stretching, then tucking his head back to rest. He reminded me of a person trying to ignore an alarm clock. Though he was sharp enough to glare at movement on the ground and a mobbing blue jay.
It’s a huge bird, but it could still be tough to find. I’d found out he was there from my friend Donegal Brown, who takes and gets great animal pictures from readers around the country at Pale Male Irregulars. But, as is often the case in Central Park, you don’t have to be a keen enough spotter to find the bird. You only have to be observant enough to find a bunch of people with giant lenses looking up. By darkness I think 20-25 people had come to see the bird.
I was especially lucky. The guy with the pro camera let me look through his lens, then even asked for my memory card and shot some wonderful close-ups. Who was this photographer who was impossibly generous? Turns out it was Lincoln Karim, who runs Palemale.com, where you will find dramatic pictures of the owl’s open mouth and clenched foot. Lincoln is a well-known advocate for wildlife in the park. Among other things, pushing to end dangerous rat poisoning. (It’s his picture of the owl with the side view here.)
Lincoln says this bird is unusual in that he keeps moving around. He flies around from spot to spot during the day. And he ends up in a different spot when his fans come to find him at dusk. I asked Lincoln why the owl bobbed his head once he flew out. He guessed that owls are triangulating on its prey; which is exactly what the Owl Pages says. No one knows how long this owl will stick around
Looking for more wildlife around New York City? Here’s a map and guide.