Climate Change Likely To Impact Snowy Owl Sightings In Central Park

A rare snowy owl in Central Park brought delight to hundreds this year. But climate change could mean even fewer encounters with the elusive creatures. CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock reports.

Video Transcript

DANA TYLER: It is a rare sight, but catching a glimpse of a snowy owl is still delighting birdwatchers in Central Park. But climate change could mean even fewer encounters with this elusive and beautiful bird. CBS 2's Vanessa Murdock reports.

VANESSA MURDOCK: A true marvel of nature enraptured New Yorkers in late January: an improbable sighting in Central Park of a snowy owl, according to avid birder David Barrett.

- And it was an amazing occurrence. Just simply extraordinary.

VANESSA MURDOCK: Barrett says she flew south along with Arctic air from her homeland, and likely found familiarity on the ball fields of the North Meadow. The flat land reminiscent of her hunting grounds. A backstop the perfect perch to listen for prey. Of course, the food supply here plentiful: rats.

The last time a snowy owl graced Central Park with its presence: 130 years ago. Barrett shared the news on his Twitter account, "Manhattan Bird Alert." New Yorkers flocked to the park to watch in wonder.

- I just was totally in shock.

VANESSA MURDOCK: Jacqueline [? Duran ?] tells us she couldn't miss the chance to see Snowy. Her and her new friends followed her movements for more than a month, at night.

ALEX MORE: We're going to see a lot fewer of these events, and they are all connected to climate change, without a doubt.

VANESSA MURDOCK: Alex More, associate professor of environmental health at LIU, shares:

ALEX MORE: When there's a lot of food available, there are a lot of owlets available, too. That means little owls.

VANESSA MURDOCK: But their Arctic homeland warmed faster than any other place on Earth, resulting in a decreased lemming population. That's what they eat. In some parts of the world, snowy owls have almost disappeared already. More doesn't want that to happen here.

ALEX MORE: It should make us think about the value of wildlife and the value of nature in our lives, and what we can do to protect it.

- She just brought us so much joy, and we really just loved her.

VANESSA MURDOCK: A respite from reality that many hope will repeat itself. From Central Park, Vanessa Murdock, CBS 2 News.