Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Loon & the Rail: Where they came from

Tom Fiore writes:

Virginia Rail - photo: Wikipedia


Last Thursday, April 3, a Common Loon and a Virginia Rail were released by a licensed wildlife rehabilitator into Central Park, the loon at the Lake in the morning, and the rail at the Loch in early afternoon. It is not clear whether either of these birds were originally found in or near Central Park, or by whom or when they were found & brought to the rehab. facility, which is on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It is unfortunate that the loon in particular was released where it was, as of all the waters in Central Park only the reservoir is fully appropriate as a loon stop-over (and is the only water body there on which loons regularly - virtually annually - stop by on migration for visits of a day or more, most often in early spring, less commonly in fall.)  We can hope that the loon brought to the lake - and subsequently "caught" on camera by Murray Head - was able to fly out soon after to a more suitable location. As for the rail left in the Loch, it was not seen after the eve. of it's release there, and we also can hope it made its way out to a more suitable location. A far better area might have been selected for the rail, which would have meant transporting it a short way out of Manhattan - perhaps to the Bronx, perhaps to a place where Virginia Rail once nested and still occurs on migration, Van Cortlandt Park in the western Bronx. That species of rail has occurred naturally in Central Park, but not, as far as anyone knows, with any regularity.  Thanks to a number of Central Park's "regulars" who provided information about the release of these two birds.