NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A rare snowy owl in Central Park brought delight to hundreds this year.

But climate change could mean even fewer encounters with the elusive creatures, CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock reported.

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It was a true marvel of nature that enraptured New Yorkers in late January.

“It was an amazing occurrence. Just simply extraordinary,” said David Barrett, creator and manager of Manhattan Bird Alert.

Barrett said the owl flew south along with arctic air from her homeland and likely found familiarity on the ballfields of the North Meadow.

The flat land was reminiscent of her hunting grounds. The backstop was the perfect perch to listen for prey. And of course, there’s a plentiful food supply… of rats.

The last time a snowy owl graced Central Park with its presence was 130 years ago.

Barrett shared the news on his Twitter account and New Yorkers flocked to the park to watch in wonder.

“I just was totally in shock,” said Jacqueline Duran from Astoria.

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Duran said she couldn’t miss the chance to see the owl. She and new friends followed the bird’s night movements for more than a month.

“We’re going to see a lot fewer of these events and they are all connected to climate change, without a doubt,” said Alex More, an associate professor of environmental health at LIU.

“When there’s a lot of food available, there are a lot of owlets available, too, that means little owls,” More said.

But their arctic homeland warmed faster than any other place on Earth, resulting in a decreased population of lemmings – small rodents that owls eat.

Snowy owls have almost disappeared in some parts of the world. But More hopes that doesn’t happen here.

“Should really make us think about the value of wildlife and value of nature in our lives, and what we can do to protect it,” More said.

“She brought us so much joy. We really just loved her,” said Duran.

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The Central Park owl brought a respite from reality that many hope will happen again.

Vanessa Murdock