Snowy Owl Sighted in Central Park for the First Time in Over a Century

This arctic creature’s brief visit has New Yorkers smiling and eagerly awaiting its next return.

While on daytrip to the Rockefeller State Park Reserve, bird-watcher Becky DePorte received a text from a friend – a picture of a snowy owl in the middle of Central Park. 45 minutes later, DePorte found herself back in Manhattan – along with other, fellow birders – snapping pictures of the creature that have since gone viral.

At the time, DePorte was unaware of the fact that this was the first sighting of a snowy owl in Central Park in 130 years; or that this was likely the first time the owl had been photographed in Manhattan.

Snowy owls have been spotted every year around the Northern Lakes and the Northeast during the winter months. There are years, however, where a big irruption event causes a larger number of birds to migrate down from the Artic, which allows for more sightings in a wider range of places. Some of the rarest Snowy Owl sightings have occurred in Bermuda and Florida of all places.

Scott Weidensaul, who co-founded Project SNOWstorm to track snowy owls and study their movements explained that he wouldn’t be surprised if another snowy owl had been in Central Park in between the documented 1890 spotting and January 27th. In a statement to the USA Today, Weidensaul explained that, “The surprising thing about this one is that [the owl] ended up in Central Park in the day for long enough for someone to spot it.”

Many have wondered when and if they might be able to spot the allusive owl again in the city. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer. Researchers say that it is just as likely that another snowy owl appears in Manhattan today as it is that another sighting occurs 130 years from now – this species is just really unpredictable.

Though likely just a fluke occurrence, the owls brief visit has given city dwellers a reason to smile amid this pandemic-winter, with many hoping to catch glimpse of this allusive creature sometime in the not-so-distant future.