The following was sent out to the birding community this week:
"On Sat 6/23 there was a series of special events at the reservoir, sponsored by iLAND, the Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art, Nature and Dance. They have undertaken Ridgewood Reservoir/iMAP, a yearlong performance project that investigates the unique landscape of the reservoir. This 50-acre site comprises wetlands, native swamp forest and urban wilderness, and as part of this project, some birders from Brooklyn (Heidi & Steve Nanz & others) have been documenting breeding and migrating birds, as well as other flora & fauna.
I arrived at 8:00am and started around the reservoir, looking for the group from Brooklyn. A young family was walking behind me, as they later told me, following in the same direction because I looked like I knew where I was going. I did have an idea where I was going, but I didn't know where any of the dances were to take place. As we approached the pump house, I saw a man standing there. It did seem odd he was just standing there watching us approach, since most people were running or biking around the loop, but he didn't look menacing in any way.
All of a sudden the young child from the family gleefully pointed to a beautiful bird in a cage on the fence near the man. At the same time, I realized that the beautiful bird was a male American Goldfinch, that there were at least 6 different cages, and all had wild birds in them. I didn't confront the man directly because I didn't want to jeopardize my own or the young family's safety, but I did immediately start the long process of trying to report the incident. Through a series of calls back and forth to several agencies by both myself and Al Ott (who was home at the time and trying to get me help) it finally got reported to the Urban Park Rangers, who seemed to be the most concerned.
Unfortunately, by then the man was long since gone, but Rangers Kreft and Billak came to the sight and got the details and specific location so they can include it in some random checks of the area. For future reference, 718-846-2731 is the direct line to the Park Ranger Office in Forest Park, and you can call that number for any incident in Queens parks. You can leave a message if there is no answer, and the machine is checked from the field for messages. Officer McCullough from the Parks Enforcement Patrol also came by, and although I brought her over to the spot where the man had been, since that area can't really be accessed by car, I don't know if she would go back.
Needless to say, most of my morning was consumed with this incident, and I didn't pay as much attention to the beautiful dancing taking place throughout the morning as I would have liked. On the positive side, we documented several breeding species including Cedar Waxwings, Yellow Warbler (Steve was esp. pleased that the parent was feeding a baby Yellow Warbler and not a baby Cowbird), and after I left, a male American Redstart bringing food to a fledgling Redstart.