New York|Do You Remember the Celebrity Birds of New York City?
Weather: A blast of cold, with a high in the low 20s and gusts up to 40 m.p.h. (at least it’ll be sunny). Over the weekend, highs of about 30; a snowstorm begins to arrive late Sunday.
Alternate-side parking: In effect until Feb. 11 (Lunar New Year’s Eve).
From “hot ducks” to snowy owls, New York City has seen a spate of avian celebrities in the last few years.
These often surprising species flap into town and attract thousands of admirers on social media, thickets of stories in the news and flocks of birders in person.
The most recent was a snowy owl that alighted on ball fields in Central Park on Wednesday.
Here’s a rundown of some of the city’s feathered luminaries.
Snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus)
The snowy owl, a young female with thick black chevrons on her white feathers, appeared early in the morning on Wednesday and spent much of the day scrutinized by throngs of birders and harried by crows and a hawk.
It seems that she quickly tired of the attention. By Thursday afternoon, nobody could find her in the park.
Barred owl (Strix varia)
Barry, a barred owl who was first spotted in Central Park in October, is more active during the day than most owls and “has become something of a performer,” as my colleague Lisa M. Collins wrote in November.
Another barred owl appeared in Riverside Park later in 2020 but soon moved on. Barry, who seems to have grown accustomed to his public, is still around.
Saw-whet owl (Aegolius acadicus)
A saw-whet owl, a raptor about the size of a robin with piercing yellow eyes, turned up hungry and dehydrated in the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in November. The owl was rehabilitated and safely returned to the wild.
Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata)
Who can forget the “hot duck” that kicked off the latest celebrity bird trend? The brilliantly plumed Mandarin duck became internationally known after he appeared in Central Park in 2018, drawing crowds of hundreds and inspiring many people to take up birding for the first time.
Great blue heron (Ardea herodias)
About the same time the Mandarin duck was causing a stir, some parkgoers began sharing pictures of a great blue heron. It was a regular denizen of the park with striking cerulean plumage.
News coverage of the new hot bird soon followed.
From The Times
A talk on ‘Sneakers x Culture: Collab’
On Friday at 7 p.m., learn about the history of sneaker collaborations in a discussion with Elizabeth Semmelhack, the author of the book “Sneakers x Culture: Collab.”
Register for the free livestream on the event page.
Ship graveyards of Staten Island
Explore the ship graveyards of Staten Island on Friday at 7 p.m. In Part 1 of this webinar, attendees take a virtual trip to the borough’s South Shore with a local historian and educator, Jeffrey D.G. Cavorley.
Purchase a ticket ($10) on the event page.
‘Sheldon Raymore: Considering Two-Spiritedness’
On Saturday at 3:30 p.m., join the interdisciplinary and activist artist Sheldon Raymore in conversation about his work and video performance “Two-Spirit Tipi.”
R.S.V.P. for free on the event page.
It’s Friday — enjoy it.
Metropolitan Diary: Setting off
It was September 1969. I was fresh from college and in Manhattan for a few days before boarding a ship for graduate study abroad.
My plans changed abruptly when I got a call informing me that the draft board had refused my request to leave the country. I was headed home to California.
“Don’t worry,” the desk clerk said the next morning when I explained why I was leaving early. “It’ll work out.”
Arriving home, I learned that a friend of my brothers who was a lawyer had won me a nine-month reprieve. I would get my fellowship and two semesters abroad, but I had to get back to New York quickly.
My ship berth was no longer available, but I was told that one might open up if someone canceled.
After an early flight from San Francisco, I returned to the same hotel. The next morning, I called the fellowship office. No berth had opened up.
“Just get down to the dock as quickly as you can,” I was advised.
I caught a cab to the pier.
“It’ll work out just fine,” the driver said as I got out.
At the boarding gate, I watched passengers disappear up the gangway while I waited off to the side.
“It’ll work out,” an officer with the shipping company said when I explained my predicament.
The passenger gangway slid away. The ship’s steam whistle shook the dock. The officer checked his clipboard and walked off. My heart sank.
I felt someone grab my elbow. It was the purser. He led me toward the crew gangway, and we boarded just before the ship pivoted out into the Hudson.
“But where will I sleep?” I asked.
“We’ve nothing at the moment,” the purser said as he sent me off to explore, “but we’ll get back to you.”
— Patrick W. O’Bryon
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