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It’s Official: Central Park Owl Died in Truck Onslaught

Barry the barred owl in Central Park. Photo: Via Twitter

To be blunt, it's owlful to be killed by the force of a 6,000-pound vehicle.

Barry, the beloved Central Park barred owl who was killed early on Aug. 8 by a Central Park Conservancy pick-up truck driver, did indeed die because of the vehicle crash, according to a state report.

The Department of Environmental Conservation's Wildlife Health Unit's preliminary diagnosis determined that the owl, a female, died of "blunt trauma consistent with vehicle impact."

Left unsolved was the question: Did Barry slam into the truck or vice-versa?

The necropsy was the latest development in the short, starry career of the fluffy feathered celebrity, who gained such a following among birders and regular New Yorkers that she was profiled by the New York Times.

The Conservancy, a not-for-profit that has performed park maintenance for 40 years under contract with the Parks Department, had made Barry fans (and safe-streets activists) hooting mad when it initially seemed to blame the animal for the crash, tweeting that the bird was "flying low, likely in search of a meal" when it "made contact with the vehicle." The organization later clarified, telling Streetsblog that the driver of a pick-up truck was doing “routine” park maintenance and “traveling slowly (about 15 mph) using lights and flashers" when the collision occurred. (The agency has not provided confirmation of that hard-to-believe 2:30 a.m. travel speed.)

After the DEC necropsy was released, a spokeswoman for the Conservancy said: "The report confirms the sad news: a Conservancy vehicle collided with the owl, who we now know to be Barry, and the owl died. We, along with so many in the park community, miss Barry’s magical presence."

A spokesman for the DEC said that the necropsy of the bird had been completed, but that the DEC hadn't received any toxicology results — so we don't know whether the avian might have been flying erratically or otherwise impaired from having ingested any poison.

Robert DeCandido, aka Birding Bob NYC, who conducts birding walks in Central Park and brought many fans to see Barry, said he was satisfied with the diagnosis.

"The NYS DEC Wildlife Health Unit has always been a reliable source of information in my experience," he said.

Barry was memorialized at a gathering near her habitat in the park on the evening of Aug. 9, where admirers placed flowers and drew a chalk tribute on the pavement.  "She will owlways be queen of Manhootan," tweeted one.

Cars were banned from the roads in Central Park in 2018, but maintenance workers as well as cops who work at the park precinct drive a variety of vehicles there. Oversized vehicles, including pick-up trucks, have sent the numbers of pedestrian deaths nationwide soaring in the last decade.

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