Sunday, December 30, 2012

Rough Days for Ducks and Geese

A veil of ice has already begun to form around perimeters of Harlem Mere -- though below freezing temperature have not quite settled over New York City yet.

But, that is projected to occur during the upcoming week.

Unlike last winter when there were nearly 200 ducks and Canada geese at the Mere, this year, there are barely 50 - 75 mallards at Central Park's most northern lake and (at this point) only one Canada goose and one swan.

That is not enough birds to prevent the lake from entirely icing over during the next few days or weeks.

Presumably, the mallards, swan and goose currently at the Mere will leave to search for open water and that will leave the six domestic (flightless) ducks to deal with a frozen lake on their own.

I am more than concerned about this situation.  As noted previously, only one of the current domestic ducks has previously endured winter at the Mere -- and that was with roughly 200 other birds there. (Last winter was unusually mild in NYC, possibly explaining the larger duck and goose population then.) That will simply not be the situation this year.

So far, the six domestic ("barn") ducks have survived hurricane Sandy, a Nor'easter and numerous rain storms.

But, those were temporary stressors and did not represent the persistent, daily grind of bitter temperatures and wind chills, low food supplies and most of all, a lake transformed into a solid block of ice.

Add to that, the threat of dogs allowed by foolish and irresponsible owners to run freely on ice.  The ducks will lose the normal "safe haven" of open water, a situation that resulted two years ago of a domestic Pekin duck (Joey) attacked by a dog on the ice and left for dead.  

Fortunately, Joey was successfully rescued, treated at the Wild Bird Fund  and later adopted to a Connecticut home.

I don't of course know what will happen.  I am hoping that most of the mallards stay and that some migratory Canada geese fly in. Perhaps among them all working together, a small pool of water could remain open.

But, that is appearing more unlikely by the day.

Already it seems, some mallards have left.

I am not sure why we suddenly have one "loner" Canada goose at Harlem Mere.

There was a heavy rain storm with strong winds a few nights ago and its possible the goose fell out of formation with its migrating flock and landed at the Mere.

The goose appears to be young and so far has been hanging with the mallards at the Mere.

But, it is certainly bizarre to be seeing only one goose in Central Park at a time, we would normally see hundreds.

Then again, considering all the shooting of migratory Canada geese in the fall and massacres of resident geese over the summer in NYC, such low and non-existent number should perhaps not be surprising.

Gun owners and hunters are always protesting any discussion or possibility of "taking our guns away."

But, its apparently OK for them to "take away" our wildlife -- and then brag about it.  "You put me under 200,000 birds and I guarantee something is gonna die!"

Or, perhaps the problem simply is that those who supposedly care about protecting nature and wildlife aren't quite so "loud" in saying so:

"We don't like assault rifles, but we would never take guns away from hunters!  Go ahead -- take all the wildlife you want."

But, even when those horrified over shootings of innocent children in schools or targeting of fire fighters on a job, roll over and capitulate to the demands of gun fanatics, it is never enough anyway.

So-called "gun control" is a fantasy in our nation.

Guns and weapons of all types will continue to be manufactured, sold and given away.

And both, innocent animals and humans will continue to pay the price:

Should I be greatly surprised to find only one Canada goose at Harlem Mere at a time there should be many?

Probably not.  Perhaps s/he is a lone survivor of a goose hunt.

Violence, death and dying are celebrated by many in our nation.

But, celebration of life is seemingly harder to find these days.

That one goose, one swan, hand full of mallards and six "barn yard" ducks currently at Harlem Mere are in for some rough days ahead.

The question is, will I be the only one to notice or care?  -- PCA


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