Rangers Search for Rare Duck Gagging on Plastic Ring in Central Park

Photos by Bradley Kane.

A rare duck known as a common merganser was spotted last week in Central Park with a plastic ring in its mouth that was keeping the duck from eating.

The merganser is likely en route to Canada from the South, and its appearance was initially a treat for local birdwatchers, as the Times’ Corey Kilgannon reported. But when they realized that the bird couldn’t eat, it became much more distressing.

The duck has remained around the lake since Thursday near the Bow Bridge — midpark at 72nd Street, said Mr. Barrett, who tried in vain on Sunday to approach the duck to remove the plastic.

Common mergansers spend colder months in southern states and tend to fly north to northern states and Canada this time of year, Mr. Barrett said.

“I should be thrilled to see this Common Merganser hen, seen on the Lake in Central Park today, as it marks the 199th bird species I’ve seen in the park since I got back into birding in ’16,” wrote bird-watcher Bradley Kane on Twitter. “However, it’s tough to see it suffer due to our use of plastic. Rescue attempts ongoing.” The nonprofit Wild Bird Fund has also been monitoring the situation and tried to help birdwatchers help the duck on Sunday.

Park Rangers have been trying to find the bird without much luck since Monday, a Parks Department spokesperson told us.

“This Common Merganser is still able to fly and swim: it wasn’t in the pond when our Rangers searched yesterday or this morning. The goal is to rescue the bird, remove the plastic, and transport the animal to the Wild Bird Fund so they can assess its overall health.

We ask all birding New Yorkers to keep an eye out for our feathered friend. If you spot the bird, please contact the NYC Parks Urban Park Rangers directly at 212-360-2774 or call 311 after 5:00pm.”

And don’t throw plastic in the park or its waterways!

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 7 comments | permalink
    1. lynn says:

      Very sad that you were able to get close enough to the duck to take the photo but not be able to remove the plastic. How does one go about approaching an animal in a situation like this? 🙁

      • ben says:

        You know zoom/telephoto lenses exist…

        • lynn says:

          “…said Mr. Barrett, who tried in vain on Sunday to *approach the duck to remove the plastic*.”

          My question was, how does one approach a duck in a situation like this.

      • jezbel says:

        I’m sure the photographer used a telephoto lense or the “enlarge” feature on a mobile phone. I doubt anyone was that close. Also, it’s not known if the bird in the pic is an example of the species or the actual bird with plastic stuck in its throat.

    2. Gretchen says:

      This poor little duck is still missing according to the news tonight. I hope the park rangers are able to find this poor baby and treated before it’s too late. 🙁

    3. Jacqueline says:

      I saw her on Monday afternoon at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis reservoir. East side, in the water with a bunch of Mallard duck couples.

      Called and left a message yesterday, but finally got in contact with the wildlife rangers just now.

      Fingers crossed they find her!