What Happened to the Ducks in Rockefeller Park?

When I walked by the pond in Battery Park City’s Rockefeller Park the other night, I noticed there were no ducks, but I soon enough forgot about it. Then J. emailed: “My wife and I saw two, maybe three, adult ducks puttering around this spring, but none for last several months. And no ducklings this year at all.” Last summer, a turtle was menacing the ducklings (pictured in J.’s 2016 photo, above), which could have caused the ducks to think twice about the pond, but J. thinks the water level has been changed, making the pond less hospitable. “The theory is that the water is allowed to get too high before the nesting season to allow for a nest in those pots. No self-respecting duck will build a nest under water.”

The first photo below, with the egg, is from April, 2016; J. thinks there were two sets of ducklings that year and in the previous year. The second photo, from December 2012, shows how the water level used to be lower (at least in winter, before the nesting) than it is now. “And the third photo, from 2010, shows the care the park crew gave to the ducks.”

J.’s email came in right before the holiday weekend, so I haven’t had a chance to contact Battery Park City Parks to see if the folks there know anything. I thought it might be worth posting first, because I suspect someone out there has already looked into this.

UPDATE: As you can see in the comments, a couple of people have seen ducks lately, and on Facebook, Lori said she spotted ducklings last week. If someone can send in a recent photo of the ducks and ducklings (tribecacitizen@gmail.com), you’ll save me a call to the park authorities….

UPDATE #2: “My son and I saw them last week (June 26)!” reports Miki. “Also there was a board like object hooked to the edge of the pond, I guess it was for helping ducks/ducklings to get in and out of the pond? So people are wondering where ducks/ducklings are this year since they are not just staying in the pond all the time?” Indeed. Miki’s photo is at the end.

UPDATE #3: And Nancy sent in a photo of the ducklings from this past Friday.

UPDATE #4: This is from J., of the initial email: “I’m surprised but very glad to see the recent photos of the ducklings. I am now wondering if anyone had seen them nesting in one of the vegetation pots this year, or if somehow the ‘board-like object’ draped over the side is what allows them access. The reason I brought this up at all is that my wife and/or I pass by that pond once or twice a day, usually afternoon or mid-to-late evenings. In past years we always saw the new ducklings huddled and sleeping at night (other than a maverick or two) in one of the pots of tall plants, usually guarded by one or more of the parents floating near-by; as well as seeing them all swimming and playing during the day. All this steadily over the course of weeks…. As I said earlier, we happened not to see any ducklings at all this year, either swimming around and certainly not nesting. Bad timing on our part, apparently, for the swimming, but it still looks to me like the water level has risen to the point that nesting would not be possible. We’ve all got more important things to worry about, but I wouldn’t mind one less on my scales. So, have there been any sightings of nesting?”

Miki’s photo from June 26:

Nancy’s photo from June 30:



  1. We walked by yesterday and there was a mother duck and several ducklings.

  2. I saw ducks there last week.

  3. Where do the ducks go in the summer? This article made me think about catcher in the rye where Holden keeps asking where the ducks in Central Park go during the winter.

  4. By this time in July, the ducklings are fully grown and fly away

  5. J.: You are right. You now have convincing evidence of happy, healthy, nesting ducks. There ARE plenty of other things to worry about, potentially cataclysmic things.