No one expected this visitor on the crescent-shaped pond in Central Park. There is a male Mandarin duck floating on the surface of the NYC pond with an air of majesty.
His head looks like a punk rocker’s multicolored mohawk. He’s got beady black eyes and fringed orange feathers across his dark purple chest. The duck’s bill is colored with a striking hot pink that sits just under an emerald green forehead.
You can imagine how happy the city bird watchers are with this colorful visitor.
The male Mandarin duck is native to East Asia and should not be in the middle of Manhattan. And yet, against all odds, he is here. And he is breath-taking.
The duck was first spotted on October 10th near the Pond in Central Park and a video was shared on social media.
David Barrett, the creator and manager of Manhattan Bird Alert, a Twitter account used to document bird sightings across the borough, originally believed there were three ways the duck may have reached Central Park.
First, he could have escaped from a local zoo. Second, he could have fled captivity somewhere nearby, such as New Jersey. Or third, a duck owner could have tired of having a feathered friend and dumped him in the park.
Shortly after he was spotted, the duck vanished. “For almost two weeks we didn’t know what happened to it,” Mr. Barrett said. “We assumed it got eaten by a raptor.”
But on Thursday, the duck was spotted by the boat basin at West 79th Street, Mr. Barrett said. And on Sunday, he reappeared in the Pond, floating not too far away from the concrete jungle at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue.
“He’s the star of the show,” said Juan Jimenez, a 74-year-old photographer who has been taking pictures in Central Park for decades.
“As far as the colors are concerned, only nature can provide that,” Mr. Jimenez said. “We could try to paint it, but you won’t be able to.”
Mr. Barrett has faith that the Mandarin duck can survive in his current habitat. Because this type of duck is a “dabbler,” which means it often feeds by moving its bill across the water to find insects and vegetation, it could last in Central Park for a while, he said.
“As long as it has open water, it will do just fine,” Mr. Barrett said. “He might live very happily on the Central Park Pond.”