NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - Cameras and smartphones in the hands of birders, Instagrammers, rubber-neckers and readers of the New York Times lined the shore of a pond in Central Park late Wednesday afternoon, aiming their lenses at a duck.
"It's so beautiful," Fordham environmental science major Emma said.
Emma and friend and classmate Lexie read about the appearance of this Mandarin duck in Wednesday's New York Times and ride the subway to the southeast corner of the park in hopes it might appear.
"And it was right here," Emma said.
"It's a duck that you wouldn't normally see in Central Park," Manhattan Bird Alert (@BirdCentralPark) creator and manager David Barrett said.
The first reports of this duck reached the birdwatching masses via Barrett's Manhattan Bird Alert Twitter account.
"There's a lot of mystery surrounding this duck because we don't know how it got here," he said.
Barrett hypothesizes the Mandarin male either ducked out of a zoo, escaped from a private collector or its last owner released it here.
"Which is what people sometimes regrettably do with their pets," Barrett said.
While neither wild nor native to this region, Barrett believes, this duck stands a good chance of surviving not only the winter in Central Park but also, perhaps, beyond."
"It has excellent chances. It can withstand cold weather without any trouble," Barrett said.
To Fox 5's admittedly amateur eye, the Mandarin duck appeared in fine feather Wednesday -- it, the water fowl, might say, adjusting to Central Park as a duck takes to water or like water off a duck's back, if it wanted to preen for us its command of bird idioms.
"Birders are always on the prowl for a new species," Barrett said.
But according to Manhattan Bird Alert's creator, this Mandarin, native to East Asia, with its banded right leg, excites birders less than an exotic wild bird might.
And with no birds of its feather here in the park, this duck seems unlikely to procreate.
"But it's a beautiful bird," Barrett said, "and everyone likes that."