Memorial service to take place in Central Park for Flaco the owl

 In collaboration with @homatalhimaintl, BirdLife Partner, @SpnlOrg, has launched an innovative environmental campaign to help save species facing extinction. One of the species included is the Arabian Owl. 

The owls in the Arabian culture are a symbol of a bad omen and the embodiment of evil spirits that are roaming in deserts and abandoned places at night to impersonate the wandering nomads. In other stories, for centuries, the Bedouins in the deserts  are considered owls as the flying spirits of dead warriors who seek revenge when they hoot or as a sign of destruction. For decades, owls with their fierce and protruding eyes resembled satanic birds; therefore, they are persecuted to be used in sorcery whenever and wherever possible. The old beliefs and traditional knowledge of the local communities are still an “unsolved” critical issue that interferes with owls’ conservation efforts in the Middle East. There are 10 owl species occurring in the MENA region; yet, their updated status and zoogeographical extent are still not fully explored.
Each year, besides other birds of prey, such as Aquila eagles, vultures, harriers, and falcons, different owl species are exhibited in the local animal markets  to be sold as cage birds or to be used for traditional medicine or sorcery.  Birds are often presented in poor health with injuries usually caused by aggressive trapping and/or careless handling and many die, unfortunately.

Unlike Europe and America, where they are considered Good Luck and owls, 🦉 are well taken care of loved 🥰 and protected. Still having said that this did not help in saving the life of the beloved Flaco at NY.For humans man-made skyscrapers with lights and reflections killed it, and may its flaco’s destiny is its way and cry to all humans to help put an end to this silent massacre of birds all over the world 🌎 that is driving wildlife species to extinction. And it’s our way to give the voiceless wildlife going extinct silently through this Endangered Voices campaign.

A memorial service for Flaco, the Eurasian eagle owl who escaped from his vandalized enclosure at the Central Park Zoo and spent more than a year as a wild bird, drew several hundred fans on Sunday, including speakers who eulogized the apex predator, citing his resilience and underdog quest to live free.

Flaco, who would have turned 14 years old this month, was remembered in poems and songs, as well as heartfelt words from those he inspired with his escapades around Manhattan.

Photographer Jacqueline Emery, who took thousands of pictures of the owl in the wild, told the crowd that the one thing she’ll miss most about Flaco is his hooting.

“He was just starting to find his voice. In time his hoots would become louder and more confident,” Emery said.

She played a recording made of Flaco once sounding off from the top of a tall building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Like a voice from the grave, a hooting Flaco came over a loudspeaker, bringing smiles to some mourners and tears to others.

The large crowd gathered around one of Flaco’s favorite oak trees in the North Woods of Central Park, where a makeshift memorial sprang up in the wake of his death. Organizers called the event “Flaco Remembrance Day.” The service was even live-streamed, with people viewing it from around the world.

Lynn Johnston, a Manhattan resident, read a letter she wrote for Flaco, recalling how he used to stretch his six-foot wing span while perched in a tree.

“I was surprised to feel such elation,” said Johnston. “I’d pump my fist in the air as you eviscerated rat after rat.”

New York City musician Jonathan Green performed a song he wrote about Flaco, singing, “Ooh, ooh, Flaco the owl … upon my roof. Ooh, ooh, Flaco the owl, I’m so like you always wondering who.”

Another musician, Elijah Shiffer, also played a song on his saxophone that he said was inspired by Flaco.

Wildlife photographer David Lei told the gathering how he watched with amazement over the year as Flaco taught himself how to survive in America’s largest city, recalling how initially the owl appeared to be a clumsy flyer and recalled hearing “a crash of branches everywhere he went.”

“We hoped he would be rescued quickly and uneventfully. But Flaco had other ideas and he transformed himself into a wild bird before our eyes,” Lei said.

Broadway playwright Nan Knighton, who on Nov. 14 looked out the kitchen window of her 13th-floor Upper East Side apartment and saw Flaco perched on the narrow ledge staring back at her for three hours, read a poem she wrote about the owl, titled, “A Celebration of Flaco.”

Flaco, a Eurasian eagle owl that escaped from the Central Park Zoo, in Central Park, New York City, Feb. 15, 2023.
Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images/FILE

“The rooftops are empty. The railings are bare. And no graceful owl is seen cruising the air. There’s no gentle hooting to soften the night. No gold-brindled feathers to catch the light,” Knighton said, reciting her poem to the crowd.

New York astrologer Breanne Delgado, who officiated over the event, read a long list of words she solicited from Flaco fans to describe the beloved owl, including majestic, joy, inspiring, freedom, heavenly, faithful, warrior, heroic and indefatigable.

“Just watching his story of resiliency and learning how to be an owl … really proved that it’s safe for all of us to break out of our cages right now and leave the matrix systems that are put in place to disempower us,” Delgado said.

Flaco died on Feb. 23 after apparently colliding with a building on West 89th Street in Manhattan, according to a statement from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which runs the Central Park Zoo.

People in the building reported the downed owl to the Wild Bird Fund (WBF). Staff from the WBF quickly responded, but Flaco was nonresponsive and they declared him dead shortly afterward.

Flaco unwittingly transformed from an obscure bird to a cause célèbre after being reported missing on Feb. 2, 2023, from the cramped Central Park digs that served as his home since 2010, when he arrived in the city as a fledgling from a North Carolina bird sanctuary. The New York Police Department said a vandal cut a hole in the steel mesh lining of the owl’s enclosure, enabling Flaco to bolt into the wilds of New York City.

The case remains under investigation, but no arrests have been announced.

Bird experts initially feared that Flaco would not be able to survive on his own and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which runs the Central Park Zoo, initially launched a team to try to recover him by setting traps, chasing him with nets and even playing audio recordings of siren calls from female Eurasian eagle owls.

But after about a week on the lam, the fugitive fowl taught himself to hunt and perfected his flying skills, prompting zoo officials to halt efforts to catch him, saying in a Feb. 12, 2023, statement, “A major concern for everyone at the beginning was whether Flaco would be able to hunt and eat; that is no longer a concern.”

New York City Council member Gale Brewer, who represents the Upper West Side, called Sunday’s ceremony for Flaco “wonderful” and said she was impressed by the large crowd that turned out to pay respects.

“Flaco was very exciting to a lot of people,” said Brewer, who attended the ceremony, adding she is happy that proposed legislation to protect birds in New York by requiring new or significantly altered state buildings to incorporate bird-friendly designs, particularly in their windows, has been renamed the FLACO Act.