What to Know
A Giant Blue Heron spotted at The Pond at Central Park is being compared to the infamous Mandarin Duck for its beauty and grace
The rare Mandarin Duck, not found in the U.S., rose to fame after being spotted in Central Park last October
Birdwatchers say the heron is not as rare a sight in the park as the duck -- they are commonly seen in the park all year in small numbers
Look out, Mandarin Duck -- there's another bird turning heads in New York City.
A stunning Great Blue Heron was spotted looking effortlessly exquisite at The Pond at Central Park last Thursday, and was snapped by New York photographer Rosalie Quinto-Demigo and posted to Twitter. "I just came out from work nearby late afternoon and decided to drop by the Pond... and then there's this beautiful Great Blue Heron standing on the dead tree and I quickly grab my camera to take a few shots," she said.
The bird quickly began to make a splash in another habitat where the Mandarin Duck is commonly seen -- on Twitter.
Call it fowl play. Before long, articles had emerged speculating on the competition between the two beauteous birds -- "Well, Well, Well, Looks Like There’s Another Hot Bird in Town," a headline from The Cut declared.
"New York City, baby! Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. Sometimes you’re the hottest water fowl in Central Park, and sometimes you’re merely the second hottest water fowl in Central Park," Gabriella Paiella wrote.
The brightly-colored Mandarin Duck -- colloquially known as the 'hot duck' -- had a dizzying rise to fame last year when it appeared suddenly in The Pond at Central Park. It took just days for the duck -- not normally seen in the United States -- to turn both New Yorkers and visitors into a new gaggle: the quackarazzi, with a horde of photographers gathering daily fo some time in the park off Fifth Avenue hoping to catch a glimpse of the exotic bird with pink, purple, orange and emerald green plumage and markings.
But while the Great Blue Heron might have just made its media debut, it has in fact been seen at the Pond and fishing the shore of the lake since late last year, creator and manager of Manhattan Bird Alert David Barrett said. "Great Blue Herons are commonly seen in Central Park nearly all year, but never in large numbers. Typically, one or two may appear in the park," he said.
The Manhattan Bird Alert Twitter account is credited as one of the reasons the Mandarin Duck shot to stardom last October. "We immediately spread the word of the duck's discovery, passing along info from one of our followers," Barrett said. "One of our top contributors, Gus Keri, went to see the Mandarin Duck and created a stunning video. We posted the video that night, and it went viral."
Barrett said the discovery of the duck saw the bird alert Twitter following spike by more than 500 percent. "It's not often that a bird becomes a worldwide celebrity," he said.
Regardless of which bird ruffles your feathers more, the interest in the Mandarin Duck has undoubtedly given New Yorkers a new passion for bird watching, and the sport is only getting more exciting in New York City. Last year Barrett spotted a record 230 species of wild birds in Manhattan, and he is currently waiting on the expected migrant bird species, which are beginning to arrive now. "People are finding out that amazing birds can be observed here in Manhattan," he said.