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Near Flaco’s Hunting Grounds, a Regreening of Central Park

Good morning. It’s Monday. Today we’ll look at a construction site in Central Park that is next to a favorite hunting ground of Flaco, the celebrity Eurasian eagle-owl who died last week.

Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

As the Times columnist Zeynep Tufekci noted over the weekend, Flaco was “resilient, stubborn and scrappy” and had taken up residence in the North Woods of Central Park. In his comings and goings, he would have seen the construction site next to the North Woods. Some social media posts showed Flaco taking in the view from excavation machinery or sitting regally on a stack of wooden wedges.

Before we look at the construction project, here’s what else you need to know about Flaco.

  • The Central Park Zoo said that a necropsy showed injuries “consistent with death due to acute traumatic injury.” Flaco was found on the ground on Friday after he apparently struck a building on West 89th Street in Manhattan, the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement.

  • Informal memorials sprang up over the weekend as New Yorkers paid homage to Flaco for having survived for a year on his own after escaping from the Central Park Zoo, which is run by the society.

  • Was he flying right? Some birders speculated that he might have eaten a pigeon or a rat that had ingested poison, which could have gotten into his system. Toxicology tests on Flaco are underway. The society said that the results would not be ready for weeks. In 2021, tests on Barry the barred owl, another well-known bird that died unexpectedly, found high levels of rat poison in her blood, according to the news outlet The City.

  • Can bird strikes be reduced? The city now requires new buildings and major window-replacement projects to use glass that birds will recognize and avoid. As for existing windows, New York City Audubon suggests small dot-shaped stickers, which it says can reduce collisions by as much as 90 percent.

  • Flaco was not the only owl of his kind in the city. Another Eurasian eagle-owl, Valentine, lives at the Bronx Zoo. She has appeared as arm candy for James Breheny, the director of the Bronx Zoo, in a hologram installation in Terminal 4 at Kennedy International Airport.

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

A $160 million construction project

The construction in Central Park involves remaking a part of the park that serves as a backyard for nearby blocks in East Harlem that don’t have much green space.

A monolithic aboveground structure from the 1960s has already been demolished. It was topped by the Lasker Pool, which doubled as a skating rink in cold weather.

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