All the ways New York is honoring Flaco in death

There are bills and a possible memorial in the works.

An impromptu memorial grew at the site of one of Flaco’s favorite trees in Central Park after his death on Feb. 23.

An impromptu memorial grew at the site of one of Flaco’s favorite trees in Central Park after his death on Feb. 23. Ebet Roberts/Getty Images

Few animals have captivated New Yorkers like Flaco. His escape from a vandalized enclosure at the Central Park Zoo and subsequent year of freedom soaring through Manhattan garnered a devoted fan base, stirred emotion and creativity, and sparked debate over the ethics of keeping animals in captivity versus letting them roam free in an environment equipped to kill all things feathered.

Flaco’s death, 12 months after he defied the odds, sparked an outpouring of sorrow from New Yorkers who got used to seeing him in his favorite tree in Central Park and atop water towers on the Upper West Side.

An impromptu memorial 

New Yorkers poured into Central Park in the days after news broke on Feb. 23 that Flaco had died after striking a building on the Upper West Side. At the foot of one of his favorite trees in the northern end of the park, devotees left flowers, condolence cards, stuffed animals, poems and drawings in an impromptu memorial. Similar tributes popped up around the park. Artist Calicho Arevalo painted a sweeping new mural in Flaco’s honor at Freeman Alley in Manhattan. Flaco’s fans visited his favorite tree for a memorial on March 3 to give him one final farewell.

Calls for change

Flaco’s death buoyed calls for legislation pertaining to bird safety – an issue that advocates have long pressed for as they’ve pointed to the hundreds of thousands of birds that die each year from collisions with buildings in the city. 

State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal and a handful of other lawmakers announced they were renaming legislation called the Bird Safe Buildings Act that would require state government buildings to have bird-friendly windows in Flaco’s honor. The new name? The Feathered Lives Also Count Act – or the FLACO Act, for short.

"I’m gutted at the death of Flaco the owl, who delighted countless New Yorkers through his presence in Central Park," Hoylman-Sigal said in a statement.

A permanent tribute

A petition on with roughly 3,000 signatures called for the City Council to create a permanent memorial for Flaco in Central Park.

“Flaco was magic. At once an immigrant and a native, he seized his opportunity to make New York City his own. He meant so much to so many, who gathered in droves over the past year to watch him be his best Eurasian eagle-owl self,” according to the petition. “He was and remains a testament to the virtues of resilience and self reinvention.”