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20221102 Image webA Mandarin Duck was recently the main attraction at Pendleton Park in Harlingen. It was a sight to see for many birders in the area, and there were many that made a drive to Harlingen to see if they could spot the rare bird – that really shouldn’t be where it was found.

According to news reports, the Mandarin Duck was a family-owned duck that had escaped from their yard. It took them a while to locate it, but thanks to local birders, the family was able to be reunited with their pet bird this past weekend.

20221102 Image2 webAccording to news reports, the family, from Harlingen, said the wings had been clipped when they originally bought the duck. They worked with a game warden to make sure everything was handled correctly before retrieving their duck. They couldn’t believe how much attention their little friend brought to the park, said reports. It made them a little reluctant to take the duck away from the park, but they knew he needed to go back home.

Until the family was able to get their beloved pet, the duck had local birders flocking to the area. Most were able to catch a picture or two of the beautiful bird since he was quite friendly and not afraid of the people visiting him.

Many birders caught some beautiful images of the bird. Many can be found on a Facebook page – Rio Grande Valley Birds.

After hearing about the sighting, Mario Galvan, Jr. decide he had to drive to catch a glimpse of the duck. Galvan, who lives in Laredo, said he loves wildlife and nature. He has been collecting cactus of all species since he was seven years old. Being a nurse full-time, he developed photography as a hobby. He started with his photography by taking pictures of cacti, birds naturally started appearing in his photos.

20221102 Image4 webCurious about the different species he was catching in his images, his hobby took off full speed ahead about five years ago. His camera has also evolved over time, needing more to catch the images he wanted.

Galvan heard about the duck sighting from an aunt who lives in McAllen. She had seen a news report about the rare Mandarin duck sighting and thought he would be interested. After showing the information to his wife, they agreed they needed to make the drive from Laredo to Harlingen.

“We made it to the park around 5 p.m.,” he said. He got his gear out and knew he was in luck when he saw other birders looking through binoculars and other cameras.

“The duck was the only one of its kind among hundreds of other whistling ducks, as if they adopted him into the family,” said Galvan. “He looked so beautiful, vibrant, and healthy, playing with the other ducks.”

20221102 Image3 webGalvan said he noticed the federal band on one of the duck’s legs, something other birders had noticed when taking pictures of the beauty. But no one could get close enough to make out the information on the band.

“This little gem is literally famous now,” Galvan noted about the whole interaction and the response he was seeing on web sites and Facebook pages. No one at the time knew where the duck had come from, just that he wasn’t supposed to be in Harlingen.

He finished his evening getting several shots of the bird. The next morning, they decided to stop by one more time before heading back to Laredo.

Sure enough, he was resting in the shade along with his young whistling ducks all around him.

“I took some photos of him and prayed for his future and safety in his new home.”

While this sighting was just a case of an escaped family pet, rare bird sightings can be found throughout the Rio Grande Valley. Last year we had the Bat Falcon that brought people from all over the country to catch a photo.

During migration periods, since the Valley is a gateway of several migration patterns, many different species can be spotted. The South Padre Island Convention Center was a huge place for birders this past spring as well.

If you are a birder and head out to a local park for a stroll, don’t forget that camera, you never know what you might see.