Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Big Chill Arrives with a Wallop -- The Ducks and Geese Scramble to Survive


Splashing and scrambling for food. Sub-freezing temperatures changing the behavior of geese and ducks.
Migratory geese joining ducks on rocks to seek out stray seeds.
A hungry lot.
The ducks and geese of New York City have had it easy this winter, which to this point, had been very mild.
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But, that had begun to change this week and is predicted to get worse by the weekend.
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There are predictions for up to a foot of snow for the city starting on Friday night.
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For the past two months, I have been watching the migratory geese who winter at the Central Park Reservoir, casually fly out each evening, presumably to find food sources elsewhere. Though the Reservoir is a safe and quiet daytime retreat for the birds, it is low in natural food sources; primarily grass.
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A few nights ago, I even saw a flock of mallards follow behind some of the exiting geese.
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But, behavior changed over the past few days as temperatures plummeted and smaller lakes and ponds of the city iced over.
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More geese and ducks have arrived to the Reservoir (which is one of the last watercourses to freeze over) and more appear to be staying.
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They are also hungry.
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During sub-freezing weather, the birds apparently need more nourishment in order to provide energy for warmth.
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And so instead of having a couple of dozen birds come to me for treats in the evenings, over the past couple of nights, there have been more than 100.
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And many of the geese are now joining the mallards on the rocks surrounding the Reservoir to try and grab some seeds.
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It's reminiscent of the desperation observed last winter when a number of geese, ducks and even a coot starved to death on the then-ice covered Reservoir.
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Thus this blog entry is appeal to those close to park lakes, ponds and other watercourses to bring some food for the birds during particularly harsh times of the winter. (snow, ice and sub-freezing temperatures.)
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Best sources of nourishment for water birds are whole grains, corn, barley, rice, sunflower seeds, shelled peanuts or wild bird seed. Small morsels of dry dog food are also OK and provide protein.
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If true that we get more than a foot of snow this weekend, the birds will basically be "marooned" with few places to go and little visible food around.
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I would personally hate to see a repeat of last winter.
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Please check your cupboards for any suitable sustenance for the birds of our parks.
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They will love it if you do.  -- PCA
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6 comments:

Nicole said...

I hope we dont see a repeat of last year as well..Ive seen a family of geese at chelsea piers- ive been in that area lately-- hopefully they will be ok.

PCA said...

So far, the ducks and geese have been lucky with the mild weather. No deaths at Reservoir even after blizzard. And though half of it iced over the other day, it is all open water again. :)

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