For that matter, during the early months of the Covid quarantine, it was the parts of the city outside Central Park that felt the most surreal to many New Yorkers: the streets suddenly emptied of cars and people, whole neighborhoods transformed overnight into ghost towns or haunted spaces from a de Chirico or Edward Hopper painting — lonely and desolate and apprehensive.
In Central Park, at least the illusion of normal life could be sustained: people running and biking and walking their dogs, birds going about their birdy lives — hunting for food, building nests, taking flight over the lake or the reservoir. The beautiful Mandarin duck (whom I photographed for Bette Midler’s new children’s book “The Tale of the Mandarin Duck: A Modern Fable”) didn’t return during the Covid quarantine, but lots of other wildlife did — including at least five owls, a coyote, a rabbit, a bald eagle, a peregrine falcon, a variety of herons and hawks, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, thrushes, adorable titmice who will eat peanuts from people’s hands, a confusingly large assortment of warblers, flotillas of Canada geese and ducks of many sorts (including wood ducks, buffleheads, northern shovelers, mergansers, green-winged teals and ruddy ducks).
Two mallard families grew up on the Sailboat Pond during the summer, and the young raccoon who lived in a tree trunk near the pond had four adorable babies, who quickly grew accustomed to the mask-wearing humans who stopped by nearly every day to take their picture. Later in the year, a soulful-eyed barred owl — whom fans named Barry — came to visit the park and has stayed on for more than four months. A second barred owl, as well as a great horned owl and a long eared owl also stopped by, and in 2021, the snowy owl miraculously flew in — the harbinger, people hoped, of a new era.
Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/04/travel/finding-refuge-and-a-snowy-owl-in-central-park.html