NYC Parks Department launches effort to rescue duck with plastic stuck on its beak

Birdwatchers are concerned that a female common merganser cannot feed due to plastic debris trapped around its beak and neck.

(CNN)In New York City's Central Park, no duck gets left behind.

The city parks department is looking for a duck with a plastic ring wrapped around its beak and neck.
Five park rangers are searching all bodies of water in Central Park and the pond in nearby Morningside Park, said parks department spokeswoman Megan Moriarty. They're searching on land and will kayak to the duck to make a rescue if needed.
She said the duck is still able to fly and swim. Birdwatchers across Twitter have grown concerned that the duck is unable to eat.
    Bird photographer Bradley Kane snapped a photo Saturday and said he didn't see the bird dive or feed.
    "You can see the struggle first hand and it's difficult to see," he said.
    He found the situation especially distressing since he photographed the duck in "one of the most visible spots on earth." He added, "It's perhaps more powerful than seeing photos of dead birds on pacific atolls with plastics in their stomachs."
    Kane noted that the duck, a female common merganser, is uncommon in the New York City region and is spotted only about every two years.
    Common mergansers are usually first to migrate north at the start of spring, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The duck is known for its narrow red beak and rust-colored flare of feathers on its neck.
    Though the common merganser is rare to the NYC area, pollution in bird habitats is not.
    Around eight million tons of debris enter the ocean every year, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
    The agency's then-deputy director, Jim Kurth, testified to a Senate sub-committee in 2016 that "marine debris is one of the most pervasive and pernicious global threats to the health of the world's coastal areas, oceans, and waterways." Plastics are one of the most common types of debris, he said.
    Plastic debris can entangle birds or block their digestive tracts, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Ingesting a piece of plastic increases a sea bird's chance of death by 20%, according to NOAA.
    It's uncertain where the duck encountered the piece of plastic.
      In 2018, NYC Urban Park Rangers responded to nearly 900 animal condition reports, while there have been 133 reports between November 2019 and the end of January this year.
      The NYC Parks Department is asking the city's birdwatchers and park-goers to reach out if they spot the duck.