Flaco The Owl Death: Beloved New York City Eurasian Eagle-Owl Dies Following Apparent ‘Collision’ with Building’s Glass Window

Bird deaths or injuries caused by glass collisions at tall buildings have impacted multiple avians in the United States annually, according to wildlife conservation experts. One recent case occurred in New York City where an owl, named Flaco, died after apparently colliding with a building’s glass window. The Eurasian eagle-owl struck a building in Manhattan, New York, last Friday, February 22, a year after vandals cut the wires on Flaco’s cage at the Central Park Zoo to set him free.

Glass windows in establishments, especially high-rise buildings, have become a problem for birds. In the past, the winged animals fly into either reflective or transparent glass which they do not perceive as a concrete, solid barrier.

According to experts, birds see their reflection and surrounding environment through the glass, asserting this is the reason why bird strikes and window collisions have persisted.

Flaco the Owl Death

Flaco The Owl Death: Beloved New York City Eurasian Eagle-Owl Dies Following Apparent 'Collision' with Building's Glass Window
(Photo : Photo by Laterjay Photography on Unsplash)

Flaco the owl became an internet sensation since last year, with some people taking picture of the freed bird from its New York enclosure. Over the past year, amateur birdwatchers capture the flight of Flaco with their iPhone shotes whenever they see him across New York City. But the seemingly freedom gained by the bird was short-lived after it struck an Upper West Side building last week, which likely led to his immediate death.

In February 2023, a group of vandals broke into the cage of Flaco, allowing the bird to fly away. Since the beloved New York owl was in captivity for 12 years, birdwatchers were initially concerned on the bird’s survival and on his hunting ability, which is challenging for wild animals that spent a long time in enclosures.

Details about the death of Flaco emerged after he was found dead on a sidewalk last week. A necropsy report also showed Flaco was healthy and in good shape prior to his death.

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Birds Strikes and Window Collisions

The metaphorical phrase “birds of the same feather flock together” has often been used to depict human relationships and interactions relative to their identity or status in life. However, the phrase has never been more literal, even if a flock of bird smashes through glass windows without a moment’s pause. This phenomenon accounts to a high number of bird deaths in the US, as well as in other parts of the world.

According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), almost 1 billion birds collide with buildings and glass in the US every year. It highlighted that while most fatal collisions occur at homes and buildings shorter than four stories tall, smaller structures such as glass walkways and bus stop shelters remain a threat to avians. Yet, these collisions can be prevented by transforming homes and buildings to be safe for the birds, the FWS says.

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