New York City’s most famous owl died this past Friday after it collided with a building on the Upper West Side.

Flaco, a Eurasian eagle-owl, became a celebrity after escaping the Central Park Zoo a year ago after someone cut through his stainless-steel mesh enclosure. He evaded capture attempts by zoo staff and local police. Reports indicate he acclimated quite well to the mayhem of the city despite living in captivity.

Zookeepers on Saturday confirmed Flaco died from a traumatic impact. NPR reports that a local rescue group, Wild Bird Fund, suggests he struck a window, but there “could be another underlying cause.” According to a necropsy, Flaco was in good physical shape at the time of his death. He was found dead on a sidewalk.

“The main impact appears to have been to the body, as there was substantial hemorrhage under the sternum and in the back of the body cavity around the liver,” the necropsy report said.

The Central Park Zoo put the blame squarely on the person who cut open Flaco’s enclosure. But they’re investigating illness as a possible factor and plan to release an update in several weeks.

Windows have long been a nuisance for birds. American Bird Conservancy collision experts Christine Sheppard and Bryan Lenz write that Smithsonian researchers estimate between 365 million and 1 billion birds annually in the U.S. due to glass collisions.

The glass industry and local governments know how dangerous glass is to birds. Ordinances throughout the country have called for bird-friendly glass or film to be applied to buildings of certain heights. Glass companies have also designed various options to mitigate bird strikes, including patterned, frosted, fritted and etched glass.


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