© Flickr/surfbird917A red-necked grebe was spotted in Central Park on March 15.
The bitter winter that kept many New Yorkers shivering well into March had a silver lining for birdwatchers - driving rare ducks typically spotted only in climes further north down to the city.
Red-necked grebes, which normally stay in the northwest and Canada, have set up shop in Central Park
and were spotted as recently as March 30, birders said. White-winged scoters, more common upstate but rarely spotted in the city, have been seen in Inwood Hill Park, sparking enthusiastic posts by birders on blogs
, YouTube and the popular mapping website eBird.
Both species seemed to have moved south because the colder-than-usual winter temperatures froze their natural habitat - making it difficult for them to feed, said Andrew Farnsworth, a researcher at Cornell's Lab of Ornithology.
"When the freeze happens, they disperse to wherever they can find something that appears to have open water," said Farnsworth, who studies bird travel patterns. "There was a huge movement of water fowl off those lakes.
"The red-necked grebe were moving tremendously this year [traveling] as far south as they needed to go," Farnsworth said of the distinctively plumaged birds.