I wanted to see the impact of the New York Times article had on the owl, last Friday night (11/20/20), and see what happens on a Birding Bob Owl Walk, as one was scheduled.
The owl location which I already knew (the old fashioned way via crows and bluejays), had already been reported on the Manhattan Bird Alert, and when I arrived at 2 p.m. there were 20 people watching the owl. While they were generally quiet, visitors were rustling leaves (which owls are very attuned too), and many owl watchers went within a few feet of the owl to take pictures with their smartphones. The owl was being woken up time after time. I left and went birding and returned around 3:30 to watch the owl from a distance, to see it wake up, stretch and then fly out.
With all of the press and excitement over this owl, it would be nice if the core followers of the Central Park Barred Owl started to think about what rules would make sense to minimize the impact visitors are having with this owl, now that it looks like it might stay the winter. This owl is a guest in our park, and we should roll out the red carpet. Simply deciding as a group to not arrive until after 3 pm, so the owl could be undisturbed during the morning and most of the afternoon would be a great start. Plus a reasonable boundary around the roost would be helpful. If everyone truly loves this owl so much, they should make sure they nurture and respect it.
Surprisingly, I didn't see Bob DeCandido at the fly out. I've seen him do this before. I'm always surprised that he doesn't do simple reconnaissance before he leads an owl walk. Or at least have someone, help with the reconnaissance so his tour could start in the right location.
Birding Bob's tour started at 5 p.m. and around 5:20 I started to hear owl recording be played in the Loch. The tour had about 35 paying attendees (which at that number requires a permit), who at $10/head I estimate earned Birding Bob, $350.
After about 30 minutes of tape playing and then shinning a flashlight all around the Loch, the trip moved on to the base of the Great Hill. More tapes were played, and the trip continued up to the Great Hill. At this point, I stopped observing the group. They may have eventually caught up with the owl. But I hope not. The owl didn't need to be treated like a circus animal and be asked to do tricks.