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Fowl Play? Rare Mandarin Duck Missing From Central Park

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A rare duck that went viral online after finding a new home in Central Park has gone missing.

Mandarin Duck
(credit: Pat Dubren)

The Mandarin duck, known for its multicolored feathers and hot pink bill, is native to East Asia.

It created quite a splash when it arrived in Central Park. The bird was first spotted on Oct. 10th and captured in a now viral video. It was last spotted in Turtle Pond last Friday.

NYC Dennis Newsham
A Mandarin Duck at Central Park New York City (credit: Dennis Newsham @TouristPicsNYC)

"While we are not tracking the Mandarin duck, we've noted that he's appeared healthy and has regularly moved between water bodies in Central Park. We don't know his exact location at this time," the Parks Department said in a statement. "Almost all ducks migrate seasonally. While we're happy to have had him visit our parks, it's important to remember that at some point he may leave New York for warmer temperatures."

Mandarin Duck Wood Duck
A Mandarin Duck and Wood Duck at Central Park New York City (credit: Dennis Newsham @TouristPicsNYC)

Since it was first spotted, New Yorkers and tourists are swarming to the pond in the southeast corner of the park near 59th and Fifth.

"It was not seen yesterday and despite my posting about it today and encouraging people to look for it, it has not been seen today," Bird watcher Dave Barrett said.

Barrett suspects the duck probably moved to another water area on its own - perhaps the Central Park reservoir - where it wasn't being constantly swamped with attention. He told CBS2's Jessica Layton the duck disappeared for two weeks in October before being found in the 79th Street Boat Basin.

The bird is native to East Asia. It shouldn't be in the middle of Manhattan. Barrett says it's one of the most colorful ducks you can find.

Mandarin Duck
(credit: Pat Dubren)

"It's beautiful. That's the thing that is getting people's imaginations fired... It's the most beautiful duck, probably in the world," Barrett said.

Mandarin Duck
(credit: Pat Dubren)

"I took a couple hundred [pictures] because it's a rare bird and I was trying to get some action shots, and I got some of it flying," photographer David Newsham said.

Bird experts said they don't think the duck will migrate for the winter, but it should survive here in New York.

So is it possible someone may have taken it?

"It's not easy to catch a duck, certainly a healthy live duck like this would not be easy to catch and I think New Yorkers love it and would not want to harm it," Barrett said.

The birder says the more likely scenario is that the beautiful creature simply spread its wings and moved on to new settings.

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