flaco cover

Asteroid Sleuth: The Case of the Fallen Fowl

Avid avian admirers worldwide were saddened on February 23, 2024, by the news of the untimely passing of Flaco, a Eurasian eagle owl that had become a celebrity bird-about-town after escaping from New York’s Central Park Zoo a year prior.  Concerns that Flaco, who was hatched at a bird park in North Carolina in 2010 and had spent his life in captivity, would not be able to survive in the wild, having never developed hunting skills, prompted various attempts at his recapture, all unsuccessful.

But Flaco proved the skeptics wrong, quickly reverting to instinct and preying upon rats and other small mammals in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.  He became a media sensation, with legions of fans across the globe chronicling his appearances at window ledges, lamp posts and trees.  Perhaps his release from cramped quarters (his enclosure was about the size of a bus stop, not much room for his six-foot wingspan) made New Yorkers, in their tiny apartments, identify with him.  Perhaps it was his “outlaw-hero” image, but Flaco became a symbol of freedom and resilience, dubbed “the Ultimate New Yorker.”

flaco tree
A windswept Flaco roosts on a sycamore tree in Central Park; a natal Sun/Uranus conjunction conferred a strong urge for freedom, activated by the transit Sun squared Uranus at his escape

Flaco’s flight for freedom occurred on 2 February 2023, after vandals cut the stainless-steel mesh surrounding his cage.  Zoo personnel noted his absence and the damage at about 8:30 PM EST.  Wikipedia lists his hatching date as 15 March 2010, and he was found on the ground, seriously injured, on West 89th Street on 23 February 2024.  His injuries were consistent with window collision, and Flaco died shortly after discovery, just shy of his 14th birthday.  Eurasian eagle owls have a lifespan of about 20 years in the wild, but up to 60 in captivity, so Flaco’s escape may have cost him several decades of life, but what price freedom?

For this celestial investigation, we’ll be using asteroids Flacourtia 9040 for Flaco; Byrd 3505 (bird) and Fowler 2762 (fowl) for birds generally; Europa 52 and Asia 67 for his species’ Eurasian origins; Carolina 235, Manhattan 12464 and Parks 5585, for his place of birth (North Carolina), city of residence (Manhattan) and location of his enclosure (Central Park Zoo); Athene 881 and Minerva 93, as the goddesses whose totem bird the owl is; and Wisdom 3402, for the owl species’ famously reputed sagacity.

flaco floor
Just another commuter: Flaco mingles with his fellow New Yorkers; a natal semisquare from asteroid Manhattan to Jupiter assured his celebrity status in the Big Apple

For humans, PNAs (Personal-Named Asteroids) resonating to their names generally appear in connection to the Sun, Moon, Ascendant or Mercury (as ruling the naming function), and I’m pleased to note that this rule of thumb applies to those without thumbs as well.  When Flaco hatched on the Ides of March 2010, asteroid Flacourtia at 18 Pisces conjoined the 24 Pisces Sun, perhaps prompting the (truncated) choice of his name. 

Also here, Mercury at 25 Pisces (ruling birds generally), Uranus at 26 Pisces (ruling large birds of flight specifically) and asteroid Carolina at 22 Pisces (for his North Carolina birthplace).  With a Sun/Uranus conjunction, Flaco likely also had a well-developed urge for freedom.  The Sun further opposes an exact conjunction of asteroid Byrd with Saturn at 1 Libra, identifying him as an avian (Byrd), with Saturn also ruling birds of prey specifically.

flaco zoo
Hatched in a bird park in North Carolina, Flaco spent most of his life in the Central Park Zoo, with natal asteroid Parks at station, indicating a prominence for parks in his biography

For his Eurasian national origins, we see Flacourtia squared both asteroid Asia and Europa, at 11 and 24 Gemini respectively (though these are not conjunct each other).  Flaco’s celebrity is prefigured by a conjunction of Flacourtia with Jupiter at 13 Pisces, and the seeds of his demise can also be seen, in a conjunction with asteroids Rip 7711 (a death indicator as “RIP”) and Glass 32564 at 15 and 17 Pisces (with window collision the most likely cause of death).  Jupiter here also ensures the death will be a very public one.  Flacourtia is also semisquare to an asteroid Wisdom/Minerva pairing at 4 and 7 Taurus, combining one of his divine patrons and alleged attributes.

Asteroid Fowler is at station from 15 Scorpio, turning retrograde the day after his birth, establishing him as a fowl.  Fowler squares asteroid Icarus 1566 at 12 Aquarius, reminiscent of this mythic figure’s flight for freedom from captivity, and tragic plunge to his death.

flaco fire escape
Flaco checks out the view from a high-rise fire escape; the natal Sun conjunct asteroid Flacourtia gave him his name, while a conjunction with asteroid Carolina establishes his North Carolina birthplace, and Mercury here signals a newsworthy existence, as well as ruling birds generally

Asteroid Parks is also at station; at 27 Cancer, it turned direct on March 25th, already at its station degree.  Stationary points exert a greater-than-typical influence on the character or biography of the individual, and for Flaco, born at a bird park and a lifelong resident of Central Park Zoo, this is no exception.  Parks is also in a precise T-Square, exactly opposed asteroid Athene at 27 Capricorn, the owl’s other mythic protectress, with asteroid Manhattan on the fulcrum at 27 Aries.  The link between Flaco’s city of residence (Manhattan) and his domicile there (Central Park Zoo) is quite remarkable to see.

Two death indicators appear at station as well, signaling that his passing would be broadly memorable.  Asteroid Lachesis 120, named for the mythic Greek Fate who determines the span of life, falls at 19 Scorpio, turning retrograde the day of his birth.  Her sister Fate Atropos 273, who severs the thread of life when Lachesis gives her the high sign, appears at 0 Leo, and turned direct March 22nd.  Atropos is exactly conjunct Mars, suggesting that the death would involve some degree of violence, such as a window collision would provide (with Mars also the ancient ruler of accidents, now in Uranus’ bailiwick).

flaco mouse
Flaco proved his skeptics wrong, quickly learning to fend for himself in the wild, as this kill shows; natal asteroid Nemesis squared asteroids Rodionta (rodents) and Ratte (rats) suggests his role in their destruction, but Nemesis also squares asteroid Glass, with window collision the likely source of his own ruin

Not bad, for a wide-eyed mass of feathers with tufted ears and a beak.

We don’t know exactly when the vandals did their damage to Flaco’s enclosure, or when he escaped, but the 8:30 PM EST time for the recognition of his departure yields some interesting results.  Amazingly, the 23 Pisces Descendant is exactly conjoined by Neptune, ruler of prisons and incarceration, and is just one degree shy of Flaco’s natal Sun degree at 24 Pisces.  What better symbol can we have of Flaco’s release?

Asteroid Byrd at 25 Aquarius conjoins Saturn at 26 and asteroid Icarus at 27 Aquarius, another image of this avian’s (Byrd) flight to freedom (Icarus) from restriction and limitation (Saturn).  The transit Sun at 13 Aquarius closely conjoins natal Icarus, further impelling the urge for release from confinement.  Asteroids Manhattan and Athene at 4 and 5 Aquarius are just within orb of the Sun, spotlighting (Sun) the Big City (Manhattan) Owl (Athene) for the timeframe.

flaco cage
Flaco in his zoo enclosure; when vandals cut the wire mesh and freed him, asteroid Byrd conjoined asteroid Icarus and Saturn, symbolizing this avian’s (Byrd) flight for freedom (Icarus) from restriction (Saturn); the transit Sun was also conjoined natal Icarus

Asteroid Flacourtia at 2 Cancer conjoins asteroid Parks at 5 Cancer, and together these rest at the Apex of a Yod, or Finger of Destiny pattern, with inconjunct aspects to asteroids Requiem 2254 at 5 Sagittarius and Manhattan/Athene at its base.  Requiem is named for the funeral mass for the dead, a presentiment of the future.  Flacourtia also squares Jupiter at 6 Aries, for the owl that was about to become a major New York celebrity, in a T-Square with asteroid Osiris 1923 at 7 Libra (named for the ancient Egyptian god of the dead), suggesting that death could result from his escape.  Again, a combination of asteroids Nemesis 128 and Fowler at 12 and 13 Aries hints at his eventual ruin and destruction (Nemesis), as does a pairing of asteroids Lachesis and Glass at 4 and 11 Pisces (with window glass probably determining the span of his life).

Flaco’s genetic origins and hatching venue are seen in a combination of asteroids Carolina and Asia at 17 and 20 Scorpio, sesquiquadrate Flacourtia, with asteroid Europa emphasized by exact angular conjunction with the 22 Sagittarius IC, widely opposed Flacourtia.

Flaco AC
Cooling off: Flaco hangs out on a convenient AC unit; asteroid Flacourtia at his escape from the Central Park Zoo conjoins asteroid Parks, squared Jupiter conjunct asteroid Fowler, for the bird (Flacourtia, Fowler) who would soon become a NYC celebrity (Jupiter)

When Flaco passed away on 23 February 2024, his namesake asteroid had recently stationed, signaling a major change of direction for the eagle owl.  At 7 Libra, Flacourtia turned retrograde on February 5th, but had just moved off its station degree the day before, now at 6 Libra, and conjoined asteroid Fowler at 1 Libra, identifying his avian heritage.  From there, Flacourtia appears in a Thor’s Hammer, a fated pattern similar to a Yod, with a square to asteroid Osiris at 10 Capricorn and sesquiquadrate to a union of Uranus with asteroid Atropos at 19 and 20 Taurus.  This depicts the sudden, unexpected (both Uranus) death (Atropos, Osiris) by accident (also Uranus) of Flaco (Flacourtia).  (Asteroid Minerva is here as well, at 17 Taurus, specifying an owl.)  Flacourtia is also squared to asteroid Glass at 0 Cancer, the probable means of his death.

The Sun at 4 Pisces echoes the Lachesis placement of his escape, bringing to fruition the potential that his escape would limit his lifespan, and is accompanied now by Mercury (birds) and Damocles 5335 (the unseen threat of destruction), both at 0 Pisces; asteroids Icarus at 2 Pisces (fatal plunge from a height); Requiem (funeral mass) at 5 Pisces; and Asia (his “nationality”) at 7 Pisces; with Saturn here also, ancient lord of death, at 9 Pisces.  The solar stellium squares asteroid Rip (death) at 3 Pisces and forms a T-Square with asteroid Parks at 5 Virgo.

flaco bench
Benched: Flaco watches his back on a Central Park bench; when he flew into a window and died, asteroid Flacourtia (Flaco) conjoined Fowler (fowl), squared asteroid Glass and asteroid Osiris (Egyptian god of the dead)

A triple conjunction of Jupiter exact with asteroid Byrd at 10 Taurus and asteroid Athene at 12 Taurus identifies a celebrity (Jupiter) bird (Byrd) associated with Athena (Athene, whose totem the owl was), and is in semisquare to Neptune at 26 Pisces, here representing the confusion and illusion of crashing into a glass window, not recognizing it for what it was.  Neptune opposes a conjunction of asteroids NOT and Wisdom at 23 and 24 Virgo, which are also sesquiquadrate Jupiter/Byrd, for the unwisdom (NOT/Wisdom) of flying into a building, and the fact that this famous (Jupiter) avian (Byrd) was no more (NOT).

A string of points from Pluto at 1 Aquarius through asteroid Carolina at 3, Venus and Mars conjoined at 8 and asteroid Europa at 12 Aquarius shows the violent (Mars) death (Pluto) of the much-loved (Venus) Eurasian (Europa) eagle owl from North Carolina (Carolina).

flaco memorial
Part of the memorial to Flaco lists his pertinent astrological data; transit asteroid Memoria at his passing exactly conjoined an exact natal conjunction of Mars with a stationary asteroid Atropos (violent/Mars death/Atropos)

Farewell, Flaco!  May your neck ever swivel, your eyes beam brightly, and your heaven be replete with all manner of Rodentia.  Fly Free, Flaco!

Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book, detailing deep space points in astrological interpretation, and the forthcoming Heaven on Earth, a comprehensive study of asteroids, both mythic and personal. Alex is a frequent contributor to “The Mountain Astrologer”, “Daykeeper Journal”, and NCGR’s Journals and “Enews Commentary”; his work has also appeared in “Aspects” magazine, “Dell Horoscope”, “Planetwaves”, “Neptune Café” and “Sasstrology.” He is a past president of Philadelphia Astrological Society, and a former board member for the Philadelphia Chapter of NCGR.

2 comments, add yours.


Such a sad story. I don’t think birds and animals should be kept in such cramped quarters. Perhaps that’s what the vandals were thinking but they didn’t do him any favours by letting him loose in the middle of a big city. Some scientists are developing glass that we can see through but birds recognize as solid. I hope their efforts are successful and the new material is adopted. Sad how many are killed by windows. Sorry to blab on. Great asteroid analysis as usual. Thanks Alex!


Very sad… I shed a tear for Flaco… but your astro-analysis is so good, Alex!

Imagine what it felt like to Flaco, the first time he could REALLY stretch his wings, and fly HIGH and FAR!!

Not to go overboard with the anthropomorphism, but I like imagining that he felt something like satisfaction when he caught and ate his first rodent.

I hope the glass that Laurien mentions is developed and applied soon.

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