Following the passing of the famous Central Park owl, legislators have renamed the Bird Safe Buildings Act the “FLACO Act”

A comical trope often played in animated films is a bird (oftentimes a pigeon) running into a glass window. Can you really blame them when a building’s clear reflections emulate the sky and greenery? An estimated one billion birds die annually from striking buildings, one of the most recent to fall to this fate is Flaco: the escaped Central Park Zoo Eurasian Eagle Owl that captured the hearts of New Yorkers last year. Even prior to Flaco’s strike, legislators in New York had drafted laws to protect flying friends. 

After escaping from his vandalized enclosure at the Central Park Zoo, Flaco roamed freely around Central Park and parts of upper Manhattan. Throughout his year in the wild, the nearly 14-year-old bird was monitored not only by zoo staff hoping to catch him, but also by social media accounts and fans spotting and similarly tracking his location. Now after one year of freedom, Flaco’s unfortunate run-in with a building on West 89th Street may change building history.


Now with the mourning of “one of New York’s Flyest” amid us, The Bird Safe Buildings Act introduced in June 2021 will be renamed: FLACO Act (“Feathered Lives Also Count”). The legislation adjusts how buildings can be designed or retrofitted to be  bird-safe. Its silly, yet apt, name points toward an important issue, bird-safe laws are vehemently needed. New York passed Local Law 15 in 2019 which required for bird-friendly materials to be installed on 90 percent of facades after 2021. Volunteer efforts like NYC Audubon’s “Project Safe Flight” have been monitoring bid collisions since 1997 and dissecting ways of decreasing fatalities.

Back in Central Park on the grounds where Flaco circled, devoted fans have proposed building a statue of the bird, in the meantime, the FLACO act will honor his legacy.

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