A Long-eared Owl was discovered in Central Park today. It was a great find, and with the ongoing Barred Owls and Northern Saw-whet Owl, made it a three owl species day for the park.
Owls are day sleepers and while folks were very good about watching their behavior with the Long-eared Owl tonight, folks could have been more respectful of the Northern Saw-whet Owl this afternoon. I thought a huge, talkative crowd just under the owl, crossed the line a few times. It's great to catch up with friends while watching an owl. But do we need to chit-chat endlessly right under a sleeping bird, and keep talking after we've finished watching the owl? Plus, there were much better spots to watch the bird from a more respectful distance.
When we had what seemed to be a few birds migrating through the park I wasn't too worried about our conduct, but it looks like we have a few birds that are sticking around the park. Is it time to start thinking about our impact? Especially as the number of birders watching Central Park owls is increasing significantly due to expanded use of eBirds and Twitter, along with the posting of exact owl locations.
I'm not sure Central Park, which no longer has resident owls, needs to be as secretive as areas with resident/breading owls. But I do think we need to think about our conduct and impact.