3. The Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl in Central Park

The most recent celebrity bird sighting happened in February 2021 when a rare Snowy Owl took up residence in Central Park. The appearance of the majestic white bird was a welcomed bright spot in an otherwise gloomy second winter of the pandemic. With little else to do, crowds of New Yorkers flocked to the park to catch a glimpse of this visitor. Wild City author Thomas Hynes spent a snowy Saturday night with the Snowy Owl and counted a crowd of roughly 100 admirers, which included actor and comedian Steve Martin! The owl didn’t disappoint when it appeared atop one of the turrets on the 1864 pump house at the Reservoir.

Before the Snowy Owl appeared last winter, the last sighting of this species in Central Park was in 1890, more than 100 years ago! While these owls are usually found in the Arctic regions of North America, Europe or Asia, they pass New York in their normal winter migratory patterns. You can see a Snowy Owl specimen on display in the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall of the American Museum of Natural History. This specific bird was shot by Theordore Roosevelt himself near his home on Long Island in 1876 and donated to the museum in 1911.