Beloved Central Park Owl, Barry, Dead After Being Hit by Maintenance Vehicle

by John Jamison

In a sad bit of wildlife news, the Central Park Conservancy reported that a popular barred owl ambassador named Barry was struck and killed by a maintenance vehicle in the early hours of Friday morning.

The owl’s tragic death was apparently an accident. Barry was on the hunt, flying low through the park in search of her next meal. Little did she know, she was on a collision course with a Central Park Conservancy staff member operating a maintenance vehicle.

The staff immediately reported the incident, but there was nothing to be done. The Conservancy issued a statement announcing Barry’s death.

“It’s with a heavy heart we share that a barred owl, a beloved Central Park resident, passed away early this morning,” the statement reads. “The barred owl’s presence in Central Park brought so much joy, reminding all of us that the Park is a vital greenspace for all New Yorkers, including the wildlife that call it home.”

The barred owl’s popularity can’t be understated. She was a hit with the thousands of people who spotted her on their way through the park each day. Chief among those saddened by the loss are the groups dedicated to bird watching.

“We are saddened to learn that our beloved BARRED OWL died last night in an accidental collision with a @CentralParkNYC maintenance vehicle. We will miss her wondrous and beautiful presence in the park,” the Manhattan Bird Alert Twitter account wrote.

Barry apparently arrived in Central Park during the Fall of 2020. The barred owl liked what she saw. She claimed a Hemlock tree for herself and quickly became part of the park’s ecosystem. For roughly 10 months, she made a life herself as a New Yorker living in Upper Manhattan.

Barry’s Death Sparked Criticism of Central Park Maintenance Practices

Urban an environment as Manhattan is, places like Central Park are still home to a diverse wildlife population. While the most plentiful animals are to be expected—squirrels, geese, ducks, turtles, bugs—the park is also a haven for bird species of all kinds.

As a result, Central Park is a popular place for bird-watchers to congregate. They noted the arrival of the barred owl and knew where she liked to hang out. Further, anyone familiar with birds is likely aware that owls are nocturnal hunters.

Barry’s death at the hands of a maintenance vehicle in the middle of the night has sparked criticism. Why is a maintenance crew driving through the park at 2:30 in the morning when it’s a known hunting ground for owls like Barry? At least, that’s the question on the minds of many saddened New Yorkers.

Whatever comes of the debate, the fact of the matter remains. The magnificent barred owl is no longer standing watch over Central Park. Manhattan’s going to miss you, Barry.