Orville the Urban Owlet perches near a tree in Farquhar Park. Orville, a young great horned owl, was discovered after he fell out of his nest about 10 days
Orville the Urban Owlet perches near a tree in Farquhar Park. Orville, a young great horned owl, was discovered after he fell out of his nest about 10 days ago. His parents are still feeding him, and he's busy learning to fly. (Submitted photo)

Orville is a clumsy fellow, prone to falling out of trees and waking up midday on strange branches.

He has a strong independent streak, displayed most recently in his defiance of his parents' wishes to remain in the nest while he finishes school. (He's branch-surfing at the moment, but still relying on his parents to bring him meals. Of course.)

Social interaction is not really Orville's thing. He's more of a blend-into-the-background sort of guy.

Yet, Orville the Urban Owlet -- as his human neighbors call him -- is arguably the most popular creature in York City's Farquhar Park.

A rock? About 10 days ago, as he prepared for a tree-planting event the next day, Matt Leisses noticed a rock on the ground.

Except, it wasn't a rock.

"He got a little closer and was like, 'Wow, that owl really looks like a rock,'" said his wife, Heather Klinefelter.

Klinefelter soon named the bird Orville, a clever reference to Orville Wright, the younger of two Wright brothers credited with the first successful manned, powered flights in 1903.

A Facebook page made it official. Orville, a young great horned owl who allegedly left his nest in a pine tree prematurely, has been futilely trying to elude his human admirers ever since.

Leisses and Klinefelter called a bird-rescue group soon after discovering Orville vulnerable on the ground and not exactly sure what to do with his wings. But, it turned out, the adolescent owl didn't really need help from anyone but his parents.

"Some of the photographers caught the parents feeding him," Klinefelter said.

Flying: Orville is slowly learning to fly, gliding between trees around Farquhar Park not far from his nest, she said.

Judging by the noticeable decline in squirrels, Klinefelter said she suspects Orville and his family are eating well.

Photographers like Mark Lehigh are among Orville's biggest fans. Lehigh was craning his neck upward Sunday for a glimpse of Orville. A chance to photograph the nocturnal creatures during the day is a rare treat.

Before he'd heard about Orville, Lehigh said he'd never even seen a great horned owl.

Like Orville Wright, Orville the owl might have a sibling. Klinefelter said she wonders if a pushy brother or sister might be the reason Orville spent days impersonating rocks.

Or, he might just be developmentally challenged. Klinefelter said she witnessed the bird fall from a tree one day.

"He tried to save himself with his beak," she said. "Orville seems to be a little clumsy."

Habitat: Klinefelter said she's hoping the well-documented owl family will reinforce to the public something she already knows -- that Farquhar Park and Kiwanis Lake, an area she calls "the Central Park of York City," are thriving as urban habitat for wildlife.

The park is home to woodpeckers, flickers, bluebirds and more, she said. In 2005, the Audubon Society recognized Kiwanis Lake as an official Important Bird Area because of the herons and egrets that built a rookery there.

Klinefelter had been wandering Farquhar Park for about 30 minutes, looking for any sign of Orville, when something suddenly caught her eye.

"Oh my God! There he is," Klinefelter said.

Alas, it was just another knot in a tree. Orville the independent owl is getting better at hiding, it seems.

"It looked like he was looking right at us," Klinefelter said.

-- Erin James may also be reached at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.