Spotted in Burnaby: B.C.'s brightly coloured 'hot duck' appears to be back
A Mandarin duck is seen in a photo from Kelly Borget. (Submitted)
VANCOUVER -- A rare bird that ruffled feathers of birders and photographers last winter appears to be back in Metro Vancouver.
The Mandarin duck first spotted in November 2018 was seen at Burnaby Lake this week.
Kelly Borget took a photo of the gold, green and blue bird floating calmly on the water, but said his behaviour was a bit aggressive when feeding.
She said she became interested in birds over the last year, and goes to the park several times a week to check out the ducks and other wildlife.
"It's especially beautiful at sunrise," she told CTV News Vancouver on Tuesday.
Borget first saw the male duck early this year. She'd started looking for him in November when his appearance was first noted, but it was not until January that she got a glimpse of the drake.
She saw him again in May, when he had moulted and his colourful feathers were gone.
This week, she got a surprise. The bird she'd been looking for was back.
Last year, it appeared the bird had partnered with a female wood duck, but this time, he seemed alone – at least when it came to a possible partner.
He did draw a considerable crowd of humans.
"He's a rock star!" Borget said.
"I didn't get to watch him too long. There were a lot of people wanting to see him and he was in sort of a sheltered area."
The bird has been known to frequent both Burnaby and Deer lakes.
It's unclear how the unique-looking bird native to East Asia came to roost in the Metro Vancouver city.
Last year, the Burnaby Lake Park Association said it believed the bird may have escaped from a nearby hobby farm, or that it may have been a pet.
The Mandarin duck is a distant cousin of the wood duck, a species that has been in the park at least since the 1960s.
The BC SPCA said there were no rules stating the ducks couldn't be kept as pets, and the director of the Christmas bird count told The Canadian Press in 2018 that Mandarin ducks are popular with people who raise waterfowl.
As Burnaby's Mandarin duck drew hopeful crowds to local lakes last year, a similar situation was playing out south of the border.
Nicknamed New York's "hot duck," another Mandarin brought observers to the pond in Central Park last fall. As in B.C., it was not known how the duck came to live in the pond, but its arrival summoned a horde of photographers and birders.
On The Guardian, a hot duck story explained what the website called "Mandarin mania": an obsession with the bird's whereabouts.
"We built a website to track Central Park's hot duck," one headline boasted.
"'Hot Duck' returns to Central Park: New Yorkers breathe sigh of relief after rare Mandarin duck returns to its pond after weekend away in New Jersey," said another.
Back in B.C., the crowds weren't quite so large, but people packed zoom lenses to make sure they captured the strange bird in all its glory.