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Monday, March 4, 2019


Yesterday morning I got the notification via a tweet from from Manhattan Bird Alert  which stated
"The MANDARIN DUCK and his reflection, continuing this Sunday at the Central Park Pond (60th and Fifth)" and upon reading it I made my way over to that area of CP.

However, when I arrived the Mandarin duck was no where to be seen, but The Pond, was being used by a number of other ducks, including male Wood ducks, such as the one seen in my photograph atop this entry.
It's always a treat to see this bird type engaging in his activities as you might surmise from my next set of pictures.

Mallard ducks are often found spending time in close proximity to the male Wood duck variety, even though his appearance is different from theirs (as evidenced below where a male Wood duck is alongside a female and male Mallard, respectively).

This interaction of different duck types is a very common occurrence, but yesterday it had more meaning than ever for me because of a recent experience I had re my Neurofibromatosis AKA NF (which I discussed in this past Thursday's post).

As I mentioned in that entry, KL, a parishioner (who happens to be a professor) at what is now becoming my on again off again church had suggested that I secure a marketing intern to promote my three volume book series (Words In Our Beak) and to secure speaking engagements (presentations) at schools, nature centers, various cultural institutions etc.

But now KL is insisting I "work by phone so that they would never have to see what I looked like.”

I have been devastated and somewhat immobilized by these remarks and have even been somewhat afraid to leave my apartment out of fear I'd encounter someone who might treat me in the same manner; but I can't isolate due to her, and I wanted to see the Mandarin, I made my way to the park.

However, as I said the Mandarin wasn't at the location indicated in the tweet and I spent time observing the Wood duck, who certainly stands out due to his physical appearance.

After doing this I headed to the near by Gapstow Bridge to see if I might catch a glimpse of the Mandarin from there, but alas, he was no where in sight.

There was a married couple (who were probably a little older than I am) from out of town and they struck up a conversation with me about this duck and that led to a conversation about writing as well as how hard it is to make a sustainable living in our country.

Soon after they departed, a man (who identified himself as Joe and who is probably around my age) came along and we also struck up a conversation. We talked about the duck and that led to discussing cameras as well as lenses, when suddenly Joe spotted the Mandarin and we headed over to where we might see him from a better vantage point.

Alas, the Mandarin was in such a spot (too far) to get any detailed pictures of him as you can imagine upon seeing this next photo...

.... where he is fairly close to a Khaki Campbell duck, who is dipping his head in The Pond.

The Khaki was not doing this because he happened to be camera shy, as I did get a picture of a pair of them when their heads were not in the water...

... rather it was because this bird type is considered to be a Dabbling ducks. Dappling ducks eat plants, seeds, grasses and other small insects and animals that they find on or under the water. Usually they stick their tails in the air and stretch their heads into the water to reach their food.

Other Dappling ducks featured within various entries on this blog include Bufflehead Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Northern Shovelers, Mallards, Mallard hybrids.

In any event, upon realizing the Mandarin was too far in the distance to get detailed photos, Joe left the park to get a better camera lens. But many people continued to arrive the happenings in The Pond, which included the antics of an American coot (seen directly below).

There was a little girl (probably nine years of age) with her father who was among those of us watching the comings and goings of the birds in The Pond.

She was fascinated by this bird type, as am I; and I explained,"The American coot, also known as a mud hen, is a bird of the family Rallidae. Though commonly mistaken for ducks, American coots are only distantly related to ducks, belonging to a separate order."

We had a wonderful conversation re this creature and our talk quickly turned to male cardinals who were in the nearby trees...

... and on a fence which is alongside the bank of The Pond...

.... and we also talked about the female cardinal who was in another nearby tree, where she was gazing upon the passers by...

....or hanging out with male house sparrows.

We could hear tufted titmouses singing in the background so I told the little girl (whose name I learned was Anna) that a few weeks ago, this bird type had eaten seeds from the palm of my hand.

Then with her father's OK, I gave her some seeds in the hopes that she would have the same experience, but alas, the tufted titmouses proved to be shy that day, however a couple of other bird types did eat from her hand, which her father filmed.

I didn't take pictures of this because if this is something they want to share with their family, friends or within social media venues, they can do so. In any event, I was informed that they would soon be returning to NYC with Anna's mom and we have made arrangements for me to show them some points of interest where they are likely to see an array of birds.

After we parted ways, I felt so joyful to have had such a pleasant encounter with them, the married couple and Joe. None of them seemed to be afraid of my bumpy physical appearance.

But the hurt and pain I feel re KL's remarks remains. More than ever, I truly want to raise awareness re my neurological condition, either through that manuscript and/or my presentations.

Additionally, I am now prompted to return to my manuscript (re the inner experience which the actress, Gillian Anderson, read years ago and sent me a handwritten response) and once again try to find a publisher.

My focus in terms of writing, as many of you may know, has been on my aforementioned three volume book series, Words In Our Beak where the stories are told from the perspective of Cam, the female cardinal who is the "cover girl" for all of my books in the series; and who knows what it is like to be marginalized by others due to one's physical appearance and there is a duck (the Muscovy) who knows what that too (especially when it comes to bumpy appearance).

She is featured in the image directly below, where she seems to be laughing at the situation...

.... and concentrating on herself...

Moreover, she is able to be in the company of other birds who do not look like her (such as pigeons) which can be seen below...

... as is the case with the dabbling ducks featured in this entry, for you have just seen, they are able to tolerate the appearance of a duck who does not look like them and may be considered odd.

I'm not saying birds don't "bully" each other, in fact they do at times; all I am saying is studying the wild birds in NYC and surrounding areas has important implications for understanding the similarities of human behavior and the behaviors of members within the avian community.

Btw, the Muscovy is included in volume three of the series.
Here's the purchase info:

Volume One: ISBN: 9780996378529
Book Seller Info:
Barnes & Noble On-Line:
book culture On Columbus (a bookstore on the UWS in NYC):

Volume Two: ISBN: 9780996378536
Book Seller Info:
Barnes & Noble On-Line:

Volume Three: ISBN: 978099637853
Book Seller Info:
Barnes & Noble On-Line:



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