By Karen Farber
Early on Friday I was coming home from walking my dog and as I passed by 151 West 74th Street I did a double-take. What I had originally thought was a small dog sitting outside the building waiting for its owner turned out to be a fully grown brown owl! The owl was obviously awake and seemed to be stunned – it just sat there, watching the few people who were watching him.
I went home and called 311 but they informed me that I’d have to call back as Animal Control was not open until 9 a.m.! I went back outside fifteen minutes later but the owl was no longer sitting in the street. It turned out that at approximately 8 a.m. the custodian at Calhoun, the private school on 74th Street, had witnessed the owl swooping down on its prey; he actually saw the owl misjudge the height and go crashing through the awning of 151.
The owl sat on the sidewalk for quite a while and eventually flew up into a tree right near the school. The custodian began pointing out the owl to all the children and telling them its story as they arrived to go to school. So many parents called the police, worried about the owl, that by the time I saw him again the bird had its own assigned police car; two officers were parked below it and waiting for Animal Control to come and see if they could capture the (presumably injured) owl and rescue it.
Later I followed up with the school custodian and the other “regulars” on the block (I know them all from my morning 74th Street dog walk). It seems that the cops contacted Animal Control and were sitting in their squad car waiting for an Animal Control “cherry picker” to arrive and scoop the owl out of the tree. Before any of that could happen, however, the owl flew away.
One fellow told me that the owl was seen in the Central Park Ramble the next day (it is a bird sanctuary) but I’m not sure how they could know it was the same owl. Wishful thinking?
Drawing by SPDP via flickr.