By Gus Saltonstall
Little did we know at the time, but February 2, 2023, would go down in owl history.
On that day, an unknown person freed Flaco the Eurasian eagle-owl from his mesh enclosure within the Central Park Zoo. Following a brief period of attempted recapture, the powers that be within the park decided to give up the chase and let Flaco live life as a free bird.
Friday is the one-year anniversary of Flaco’s release, and while there were initial worries that the 13-year-old bird who had spent his entire life in captivity would struggle in his new conditions, he has proved the doubters wrong.
On the eve of his one-year anniversary of freedom, Flaco spent the morning Thursday perched on a fire escape outside of a building at West 85th Street.
“Flaco the owl is sitting on my fire escape — he looks fine — he is magnificent,” MJ Ansbro said as she recorded Flaco outside her window. “He seems healthy and calm, and he’s gorgeous.”
Flaco the Owl on a fire escape on West 85th Street on Thursday morning.
Video Credit: MJ Ansbro pic.twitter.com/VFlCggB7xJ
— Gus Saltonstall (@GusSaltonstall) February 1, 2024
Flaco spent the majority of the past year in Central Park, perching, roosting, and hunting to his heart’s delight. But, suddenly in November, he vanished.
After a week of anxiety over Flaco’s safety, he was spotted multiple times in the East Village and Lower East Side. There was one theory that the influx of people for the New York City Marathon might have chased Flaco off, but a more widely shared opinion is that he journeyed downtown to find loving during mating season.
Either way, he returned to the Upper West Side shortly thereafter, where he continues to be spotted flying around, perching on local fire escapes, and hunting in Central Park.
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