Dozens of dead finches found in Gramercy Park

March 8, 2011 2:28:22 PM PST
There is a mystery over dead birds found in and around a private park in Manhattan.

In Gramercy Park, you expect to see pigeons, not zebra finches, and never like the ones Eyewitness News saw Tuesday afternoon dead.

"Every time I see a dead bird, I feel terrible," said Joanie Watkins, a Gramercy Park resident.

It's the mystery hanging over this normally quiet enclave; how did these birds, that are native to Australia, end up here?

"I was really upset Sunday night," said Lisa Anastasi, a Gramercy Park resident.

Anastasi is one of many who spotted the birds Sunday, in and around the park, dozens of them that were dead, near death, or completely in a daze.

"There were a lot chirping ones that were alive, some looked like they could fly well, and some that looked, like, maybe young and hadn't quite learned how to fly yet," Anastasi said.

They were able to rescue some.

ASPCA officers are now on the prowl, investigating this case that has ruffled the feathers of many here.

"Well, he's got lots of birds, always had lots of birds," said Jan North, a Gramercy Park resident.

Jan is referring to Aldon James, the self described bird man of Gramercy Park.

He has several bird cages, and is the president of The National Arts Club.

James lives in a Toni brown stone and is being watched by neighbors who think he has something to do with the finches, and officers also are curious.

"We need a detective for that one, I'm not going there, it would shock me to think, maybe they got out by accident," Watkins said.

Eyewitness News confirmed that James purchased about 50 finches last week, but the man who sold him the tiny birds said that he's dealt with James for years, and said he's an animal lover and would probably do more for a bird than a human.

After all, James helped rescue some of the birds, and insists he did not release them.

He says he's being wrongly accused by his enemies.

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