The Mandarin Duck Effect

Mandarin Duck/Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel
This year, an unusual visitor has come to New York City’s Central Park and he has become an overnight celebrity.  This stunning Mandarin Duck in the photo above has made worldwide headlines for his appearance. He is a native species from Asia, and most likely has been captive, causing him to receive resistance from some folks.  It’s not his fault, but he’s not countable on a bird list.  And he is, with all his novelty, even making our native Wood Ducks look a little less showy. But what has been really wonderful is how he has captivated people who aren’t really aware of birds.  At a time when birds need every ambassador they can find, this spectacular interloper has arrived and fascinated locals and tourists alike. His gaudy outfit and mysterious arrival sparks questions and conversations about birds.  And if his celebrity can raise awareness of birds when we are becoming increasingly disconnected from nature, he will have provided much more than just some great views of a truly magnificent bird.