Monday, January 25, 2010

Just Like a (Blended) Family! --The Ducks and Swans of Central Park

(Pictures: Top Left: Three white ducks who suddenly showed up in park last August. Top Right: Canadian Geese taking a stroll along pedestrian paths in summer. Bottom left: Mating pair of swans in park yesterday. Bottom right: "Family" of swans and the three white ducks!
"Light a candle or curse the darkness," a saying goes.

It would be easy to worry one's self into a frenzy these days with the number of loving animals we have in boarding who urgently need real homes and the truly scary drop in qualified adoption calls and inquiries.

But, I have decided to try and make the best of a bad situation. -- Hence, one of the main reasons for spending a lot of time in the park recently with my dogs.

Some might call that, "escapism" and they would probably be right.

I am just not sure what to do apart from worrying or obsessing about the problem. We have continually advertised our dogs and cats for adoption. We send out occasional newsletters. I write a blog.

But, apart from emailing guilt-tripping Alerts: "Either someone steps up for Fluffy or s/he dies tomorrow!" or standing on a street corner with a sign saying the same, it seems nothing else works.

And yet, as a no kill rescue group, such "alert" would be a lie were it to refer to our own animals for adoption.

So yes, it is quite a quandary these days.

But, in the midst of all this misery (especially the Euth lists and endless Alerts from Animal Control) I have somehow managed to find some sense of peace and joy.

That is, walking in Central Park with my dogs and discovering all the amazing sights and animals there!

Yesterday, our journey took us to the North End of Central Park. -- the area where I go to swim in the outdoor pool during the summer. (Lasker pool is converted to an ice skating rink during the winter!)

I haven't been to this area since the pool closed in September.

At first, it was surprising to see the crowded skating rink. It is quite extraordinary to realize the transformation of a larger-than-Olympic-size swimming pool into a winter skating rink!

But, that was only the beginning of the surprises!

There is a large duck pond adjacent to the skating rink ("Harlem Meer" I believe it is called.)

During the summer, I always loved passing by the pond and noting all the ducks and Canadian Geese. The geese were so bold, they would sometimes walk upon the grass and pedestrian paths like little humans!

But, yesterday there were two new additions to the usual assortment of birds.

A pair of male and female swans!

Surely, these creatures are among the most beautiful on earth! -- Regal, statuesque, proud and just plain gorgeous!

My eyes nearly popped out of my head with the sight of these magnificent animals. I quickly whipped out my cameras.

It was amazing the way the swans willingly swam up to and seemed to trust people. One suspects they are getting handouts on a regular basis -- perhaps not such a good thing should the birds ever approach the wrong people.

On the other hand, the swans are quite large and presumably strong. Hopefully, they could defend themselves if ever they had to.

The male swan was particularly watchful of my dog, Tina. He puffed out his feathers in order to appear even bigger than he was. Tina was of course, her excitable self when seeing these unusual and large creatures. Straining on her leash to get near the water, I had to pull Tina back. The swans did not look like ones to mess with!

But, if I was totally awed and delighted in seeing the swans, I was downright shocked to see the three white (Peaking) ducks that popped up suddenly in the pond last August!

White ducks are not indigenous to Central Park.

When thumbing through a book last week on the wildlife in Central Park, I however, read that white (Peiking) ducks are sometimes seen in the north end of the park. According to the book, the ducks either "escaped" from a live poultry market on 116th Street or are dumps from human homes.

I figured the ducks were probably abandoned Easter presents when I saw them last August and feared that they would never survive. Perhaps the native ducks and geese might attack them or, as "domestic" birds, they simply wouldn't know how to survive.

But, amazingly, not only have the white ducks survived, but they seem to be thriving!

Swimming peacefully in the water alongside the regular ducks, the white ducks seemed especially fond of staying near the swans! The five white, but unrelated birds appeared almost like a family, bearing truth to the old adage that, "Birds of a feather, flock together!"

I never expected that when leaving this area at the end of last summer's swim session, I would ever see the three white ducks again!

It was an unbelievable thrill seeing the Peaking ducks again yesterday and truly a testament to the resiliency and survivability of nature.

A friend has questioned and suggested that perhaps these white ducks are not the same ones I saw last summer.

That is possible, of course. But, I would be willing to bet the house that they are exactly the same birds.

If it were just one bird or two, there would be some doubt.

But, the way these three white ducks are so closely attached, never more than mere inches from each other leads me to conclude they are exactly the same birds I saw huddled together last August.

So frightened they were then. Barely venturing off the grass into the water.

But, now the white ducks are proud, confident, clean and seemingly very content -- especially when staying close to the swans, perhaps for that added little bit of protection.

The five white birds really did look just like a family! --PCA

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Circumstances are the rulers of the weak, instrument of the wise. ....................................................