New York Mourns Flaco, an Owl Who Inspired as He Made the City His Own

He had soared through Manhattan, perching on oak trees and elms in Central Park, tenements on the Lower East Side, water towers on the Upper West Side.

“I feel like he was showing us how we can break free out of our cages, the mundane, the things that don’t serve us, the things that hold us back,” Breanne Delgado, one admirer, said.

But now he was lying on the ground outside an apartment building on West 89th Street.

“I thought it was a rock,” said Pjetar Nikac, the building’s superintendent, who found him on Friday evening. “I came closer and I saw: Owl.”

Mr. Nikac knew immediately that it was not just any owl, but Flaco, the Eurasian eagle-owl who just three weeks ago passed the one-year mark of living in the relative wilds of Manhattan after leaving the Central Park Zoo. Someone had cut open the mesh on his enclosure in an act of vandalism that remains unsolved.

Now, Flaco had apparently crashed into an eight-story building at 267 West 89th Street, near Riverside Drive. Although he was still alive when Mr. Nikac found him and, with Alan Drogin, a birder and building resident, rushed to get him help, Flaco was soon pronounced dead. He was taken to the Bronx Zoo for a necropsy that will determine why he died.

So ended an improbable adventure for a large, fiery-eyed bird who captured the public’s attention in New York and beyond by showing he could thrive on his own, at least for a time, despite having lived nearly his entire life in captivity.

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