Man­darin duck in Cen­tral Park holds New York City in its spell

Medicine Hat News - - TRAVEL - VERENA DOBNIK

NEW YORK It took just days for the brightly coloured Man­darin duck that ap­peared sud­denly in a Cen­tral Park pond to turn both New York­ers and vis­i­tors into a new gag­gle: The quackarazzi.

A horde of pho­tog­ra­phers has been gath­er­ing daily in the park off Fifth Av­enue for well over a month, hop­ing to catch a glimpse of the ex­otic bird with pink, pur­ple, orange and emer­ald green plumage and mark­ings that ad­mirer Joe Amato com­pares to “a liv­ing box of crayons.”

“So many peo­ple are drawn to this bird be­cause its vi­brant, vivid colours are as­so­ci­ated with sun­sets and rain­bows,” says Amato, who comes al­most daily from his Queens home with his ex­pen­sive cam­era equip­ment in tow.

Bird lovers and sight­seers have du­ti­fully doc­u­mented the bird's ev­ery move through so­cial me­dia post­ings and videos that have noted its gen­tle glides across the wa­ter, its snip­ing at the or­di­nary mal­lards and even a va­ca­tion, of sorts, to a lake in nearby New Jersey.

This week, New York’s lat­est ris­ing star didn’t dis­ap­point — with the feath­ery show­boat preen­ing its wings in the shadow of the his­toric Plaza Ho­tel as peo­ple on shore jos­tled for a bet­ter look.

Leesa Beck­mann com­muted two and a half hours from her home in Ver­non Town­ship, New Jersey, to see the duck that her 90-year-old mother has been talk­ing about since its ar­rival.

“I’ve got to see this mag­nif­i­cent duck,” Beck­mann said to her mother.

She plans to shoot and frame pho­tos for her mother to hang on the wall.

Or­nithol­o­gist Paul Sweet, how­ever, who heads a vast col­lec­tion of bird spec­i­mens at the New York-based Amer­i­can Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory, isn't as throt­tled as oth­ers are about the duck.

Sweet says there’s noth­ing spe­cial about a Man­darin duck in Cen­tral Park. Not only is there an­other one (al­beit cap­tive) a short walk away at the Cen­tral Park Zoo, but such ducks are of­ten im­ported from Asia for use on pri­vate prop­erty. From time to time, they es­cape into the wild.

“This bird is clearly not a va­grant,” said Sweet, adding that there are no records of ac­tual wild Man­darin ducks in North Amer­ica. If that ac­tu­ally hap­pened in New York, of all places, “bird­ers would be very ex­cited.” For now, he says, they’re not.

“A lot of non-bird­ers tend to see gaudy birds as more beau­ti­ful,” Sweet said. “But to me it’s no more beau­ti­ful than, say, a spar­row.”

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