Wednesday, December 15, 2010


(Picture Left: BradJoLina -- Could the survival of these flightless ducks be in jeopardy this winter with the lack of Canada geese around to keep parts of water from feezing over and turning to ice?)

The weather has turned bitter cold in New York City, though we have not officially hit winter yet. If makes one wonder if all the robins and most of the sparrows who seemed to suddenly ditch New York some weeks back knew something the rest of us didn't?

So cold has it been in December, the lake at Harlem Meer was almost entirely frozen this past Saturday. Fortunately, warmer than normal temperatures and rain on Sunday melted the ice.

I of course, am worried about the three flightless ducks ("BradJoLina") at Harlem Meer when the water freezes over again at the Meer.

They obviously survived last winter, but there were many Canada geese at the Meer last year and the larger, heavier birds help to keep certain spots on the lake open water.

But, the goose numbers are much lower this year and some days there are no geese at all at Harlem Meer.

Our government officials don't bother to consider the possible devastating consequences to other wildlife that extermination campaigns against Canada geese can have.

Mallards particularly tend to winter with Canada geese because the geese help to break up ice and afford certain protections and security to other waterfowl..

So far, I am not seeing many Canada geese in Central Park at all. The twenty or so who are sometimes at Harlem Meer tend to come and go. That could potentially be very bad news for the three flightless ducks, Joey and BradAgelina as they would be unable to fly to open water if and when the lake entirely freezes over. Many of the mallards at Harlem Meer have already left.

The large swan is still at the Meer, presumably, because some people feed him. But, one swan would not be enough insure open water spots. It is presumed that once the lake freezes over entirely, "Hector," the swan will have to leave. He can fly.

So yes, I am very worried about this.

I am hoping and praying that some northern migratory geese make it down to the city through the hail of bullets ("expanded hunting" on Canada geese) upstate and settle in to both, Harlem Meer and the Reservoir as they have done in previous years. They are important to the survival of other birds, including mallards, gulls, shovelers and even coots.

But, so far, I am not seeing geese at the Reservoir either, though small groups of migratory mallards have already arrived. If the mallards are waiting for and depending on the geese then they too, could be in for a rough winter. Especially should the Reservoir entirely freeze over.

One very clear sign of winter's early arrival is the obvious hunger of the birds now. So desperate are the ducks for food, that all pushing, posturing or pecking is gone. They have to conserve energy in winter, cooperate with each other and scramble for what they can get. Mallards remaining at the Meer are now hanging with BradJoLina as that seems now key to their survival. While there were some geese at the Meer over the weekend, there were none there last night.

I think back now to the thousands of goose gassings that have occurred in New York City over the past few years.

Did our Mayor and other city and state officials ever give a thought to the interconnection among species and how nearly wiping out one species of bird could horribly impact others? Did they ever give a thought to consequences?

Obviously not.

It was necessary to find some scapegoat for the deficiencies in our airline systems.

I will never take another airline flight again. I would sooner burn an airline ticket and walk three thousand miles. "Pat downs" and scanners are one thing. But, wiping out thousands of peaceful and vital birds for dubious and bogus purposes is quite another. -- PCA

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