Volume 74, Number 14 | August 04 - 10 , 2004

Big bird of another feather splash-lands in local garden

Starlings, robins and cardinals are common sights at Jefferson Market Garden. Decidedly less so was a yellow crowned night heron that recently dropped in for a visit. The garden’s horticulturist, Susan Sipos, discovered the rare bird early last Wednesday in the garden’s small pond.

“This bird is so out of proportion to that pond, its wingspan is 45 inches!” said Jeanine Flaherty, the park’s chairperson, speaking last Friday. Flaherty said that the bird, a threatened species whose natural habitat extends from New England to Florida, was intensely shy. “You don’t ever get something this large in a park like this. But it’s migration time for them and a few sometimes pass through Central Park,” said Flaherty. “Apparently the young ones tend to leave after everyone else. He’s a juvenile, hasn’t gotten his crown yet and he really wants to be by himself.”

Flaherty said the bird was spotted in the early morning and evening on the park’s shed and in trees by the pond, where it looked for food. “He must think it’s a moveable feast,” she said, “he’s eating all of our goldfish.”

However, the bird apparently flew the coop Friday evening and seems to have left for good, Flaherty said.

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