This year, only two Eastern Screech-Owls in the North Woods have been reported. (One of these owls started out in the Sixties and Fifth Avenue in October.) There have been rumors of Screech-Owls down south, but no confirmed sightings.
My 2008-2009 owl blog details the only pair of Eastern Screech-Owls, I have been able to confirm.
If this blog perks your interest in seeing owls in Central Park, take the time to learn the proper etiquette for watching owls. By doing so, you’ll not only get to see an owl, but you will be able to discover a whole world of fascinating behaviors.
The rules we followed might be good for you to follow as well:
- Respect the owls space. Keep your distance. Watch the owls for signs of aggravation. If their ears are up, back off.
- Be quiet. When talking is absolutely necessary, speaking in a low voice is less of a disturbance than whispering.
- Don't play recordings of owls calls. In a small area like Central Park, you don't need to. You just need to patiently study the owls you find.
- Don't use flashlights or flash cameras. Using any light prevents you from seeing in the dark, a must for keeping track of owls after dark! Digital cameras on a tripod do wonderfully in low light without flash. All of the photographs taken on my blog are taken using natural light.
- Never disclose an owl's location on the internet. Unless you're prepared to police the site 24/7, you could be inviting someone who doesn't understand how to observe owls to disturb them. There are inexperienced birders who love owls too much!
(The Eastern Screech-Owls were reintroduced to the park in 1998 and 2001-2002. One of the former park employees who helped develop and implement the project used our enjoyment of these owls as a sign the project was a success.
The project has not created a genetically diverse population of Eastern Screech-Owls in the park. It has stocked the park with owls, like stocking a pond with trout. After ten years, there is no proof of any third generation owls and there have not been any known exchanges of owls with nearby populations to diversify the Central Park population. Unless these two things happen, in my opinion, the project is a failure.
I've been thinking about my comments above, and there is another way the project could be a successl. Owls disappeared from the park due to some mixture of environmental pressures. Car traffic, poisons, pesticides, pressure on owls in nearby parks, reduction of cavities due to increased park management, and competition for cavities from other birds and mammals could all be possible causes. If the results of the owl reintroduction project could be used to change public policy, say to limit car traffic in the park, then the project would have been worthwhile.)