The bird, affectionately known as Barry, had developed a devoted following.
“Barry the Barred Owl alighted in Central Park last October, and startlingly, remained here through the winter and spring and summer,” author Michiko Kakutani wrote this week in a New York Times tribute. “Her arrival during the pandemic brought joy to many New Yorkers who had been hunkered down in their apartments, worried about Covid and their jobs and a crucial presidential election. She got people away from their Zoom meetings and TV screens, and out into the light and air of the park. She transformed folks who couldn’t tell a finch from a sparrow into ardent birders, spurred people who hadn’t picked up a camera since the days of dark rooms to take up digital photography, and turned children and grown-ups alike into students of all things owl, devouring books and videos about owl behavior, owl history and owl legends.
“She brought strangers together in a community based on a shared love for this magical creature who’d made Central Park her unlikely home.”
“The loss of this Barred Owl is more than the death of a bird,” wrote New York birders Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido. “It was the loss of the possibility that we would have nesting Barred Owls in Central Park in the near future. It is a step back from the evolving idea that wild things can live and thrive in urban areas.” (Allen and DeCandido also called on the Central Park Conservancy to partner with a raptor rehab center to release a breeding pair or two of the owls in the park.)
Barry the Barred Owl was the subject of countless social-media posts in life — and in death. Below are just a few tweets about Barry and the vigil that was held in Central Park on Monday in her honor.
It’s hard to believe Barry, the barred owl of Central Park is gone. I was fortunate to have photographed & visited her many times since she arrived nearly 10 months ago. She was the absolute best; brought together many new friends & reminded us how important nature is. #birdcpp pic.twitter.com/7rAJowuXLn
— Meredith Pahoulis (@mpahoulis) August 7, 2021
NYC Birding Newsletter 11 Aug: Thoughts on ambassador Barry Barred Owl and the "wild" in urban parks; links to past Newsletters on the history of Barred Owls in NYC 1900 to the present https://t.co/R9So7KVOve #birdcp pic.twitter.com/TnJeLX7yg0
— Robert DeCandido PhD (@BirdingBobNYC) August 11, 2021
On @CBSThisMorning, we paid tribute to #Barry the beloved #BarredOwl of @CentralParkNYC who delighted New Yorkers by helping us endure the bleakest days of the pandemic, bringing us closer to nature & our neighbors while turning many of us into birders. #RIPBarry #birdcpp pic.twitter.com/L4gEr4se3c
— Vladimir Duthiers (@vladduthiersCBS) August 9, 2021
Recollecting my earlier days with @BarryBarredOwl. Saw a bunch of people looking up at the hemlock on 2/1. Saw them again on 2/2 and asked what they were looking at. Barry captivated me from that day onwards. #CentralPark #BarryRIP.@BirdCentralPark #birdcpp #owl pic.twitter.com/mHnXGsAORs
— AkikoNYC (@NycAkiko) August 12, 2021
My tribute to Barry, Central Park's beloved Barred Owl, who died last week. A magical, people-friendly creature, she gave New Yorkers hope during the dark days of the pandemic. via @nytimeshttps://t.co/a2AY7FnFBg
— Michiko Kakutani (@michikokakutani) August 11, 2021
TY @michikokakutani for this beautiful essay! I'm honored to be included. I always hoped that some of my humble wildlife photos might be published one day. It's bittersweet for that to come now but I'm happy for others to see Barry as I was so lucky to! https://t.co/Vmuwkc8QUH
— David Lei (@davidlei) August 11, 2021
Friends of the BARRED OWL already have gathered and chalked new tributes by her old hemlock tree west of the Boathouse in the Central Park Ramble. pic.twitter.com/UagXy6g298
— Manhattan Bird Alert (@BirdCentralPark) August 9, 2021
Large crowd gathers in @CentralParkNYC at memorial for beloved barred owl, Barry, killed in Aug. 6 collision with park maintenance vehicle – thanks @BirdCentralPark for keeping us posted, @Imnofoodie for video pic.twitter.com/cqtTD4m6KM
— Bill Hutchinson (@bill_hutchinson) August 10, 2021
— Jun J. Mao (@JunMaoMD) August 10, 2021