FLOCKING PHOTOGRAPHERS. A Mandarin duck walks in Central Park
in New York in early December. A horde of photographers has been
gathering daily in the park off Fifth Avenue since November,
hoping to catch a glimpse of the exotic bird with pink, purple,
orange, and emerald green plumage. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
From The Asian Reporter, V28, #24 (December 17, 2018),
Quackarazzi: Mandarin duck holds NYC in its
By Verena Dobnik
The Associated Press
NEW YORK ó It took just days for the brightly colored
Mandarin duck that appeared suddenly in a Central Park pond to
turn both New Yorkers and visitors into a new gaggle: The
A horde of photographers has been gathering daily in the park
off Fifth Avenue since November, 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 colors are associated with sunsets and rainbows," said
Amato, who comes almost daily from his Queens home with his
expensive camera equipment in tow.
Bird lovers and sightseers have dutifully documented the
birdís 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.
New Yorkís latest rising star didnít disappoint ó with the
feathery showboat preening its wings in the shadow of the
historic Plaza Hotel as people on shore jostled for a better
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.
"Iíve got to see this magnificent duck," Beckmann said to her
She plans to shoot and frame photos for her mother to hang on
Ornithologist Paul Sweet, however, who heads a vast
collection of bird specimens at the New York-based American
Museum of Natural History, isnít as throttled as others are
about the duck.
Sweet says thereís 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, theyíre not.
"A lot of non-birders tend to see gaudy birds as more
beautiful," Sweet said. "But to me itís no more beautiful than,
say, a sparrow."
In this case, expertise is not the point: Beauty is in the
eyes of the New York beholders ó humans for whom the carefree
creature that has made Central Park its home offers some kind of
balm in a troubled, chaotic world.