Making way for ducklings

Off to the creek!

When a boring, stay-at-home day in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was interrupted by excitement, our 12-year-old granddaughter Ana wrote this story about the incident. It was so much fun that I decided Ana should be my guest columnist this week.

Ana uses the word “quarantine” as a synonym for staying at home. As far as they know, no one in her family has been exposed to Covid-19.

Here’s the story:

“Three police cars. A fire truck and a crow. 

“It all started like a normal afternoon in quarantine. I was sitting on my porch, enjoying the nice breeze and sunlight, reading a book and having a glass of water. 

“On the sidewalk, right next to a tree, a duck began going berserk! Right next to the duck was a baby duckling, about three inches tall, chirping loudly. 

“I had no idea what was going on, and I kept reading. After a few minutes, I looked over at the ducks and saw a baby duck come tumbling out of the tree, where there was a nest. It fell to the ground, thankfully landing on the grass.

“I ran inside and got my mom, and we both came out and stood on the porch. After another couple of minutes, another duckling came tumbling down, but this one fell on the sidewalk and didn’t move. 

“I was about to cry; it was such an awful sight, but then the duckling finally moved, letting me and my mother breathe again. We ran and got cushions to put on the sidewalk under the tree, so that no other ducklings would hurt themselves.

“Some of the neighbors heard the racket and came outside but, of course, stayed six feet away. We looked up at the nest and saw some movement, so we knew there were more ducklings. And a scary sight. Next to them was a crow, which gave us a very bad feeling. 

“While waiting for more baby ducks to fall onto the cushions, we saw a police car driving by, which stopped, and the policeman asked what was going on. We told them everything I have told you, and he was also wondering what to do. 

“A couple seconds later another police officer came driving by and got out to help. Mom went to grab an extension ladder from the garage, and the two police officers called the fire department, which sent a fire truck with four firefighters to our house. They arrived almost at once, because the station is near our house. They got out with a net to rescue the babies, and they placed our ladder against the tree. 

“Through all the action, the mother duck and the ducklings waited in the street for the rest of their family to come down. One of the firefighters climbed the ladder, got to the ducks’ nest and gently placed each of the ducklings into the net. Then he carefully climbed down and put the ducklings next to their mother. This was such a relief! 

“Once the ducklings had gotten to their mother, the whole family walked across the street to the neighbors’ yard, then they continued down to the creek together, where they are hopefully safe. 

“We said ‘thank you to the firefighters and police officers and they left. Some 10 minutes later, the neighbors went back to their houses, and it was just a normal afternoon again but with much excitement that the ducklings were saved.

“Having something like this was really a fun thing to happen during quarantine, because it isn’t like too much interesting stuff is going on for us right now.” 

The next morning Ana reported that the ducklings were safe and paddling in the creek, a block from their house.

When I shared Ana’s story and pictures with several friends, Karen and Robert Benson identified the ducks as Mallards, who sometimes nest in tree cavities. Karen said that our friend who lives on East Corpus Christi Street in Beeville also has tree-nesting ducks, but hers are Black–Bellied Tree Ducks.

Those ducks return each year to nest in holes in the cedar trees. They also lounge around the swimming pool if not chased off. (Not a good place for ducks, since the chlorine in the water removes the oil from their feathers.)

This year’s ducklings have not hatched yet, but in numerous previous years, the parents and ducklings have been seen downtown, making their way to the Poesta Creek.

Last June, our friend had three ducklings that were left behind when their family left to the water. She raised them, but only one survived, flying around the yard and following her around. One day the duck was found across town and taken to the animal shelter, where a friend recognized it. The duck was released and showed up a few hours later back home. 

It is now with the current flock, waiting for this season’s eggs to hatch, usually at the end of May. Then our friend will see ducklings jump from her trees, follow their parents and head to water. 

They don’t need firemen to rescue them, but definitely need help crossing busy streets on their way to the creek. Fortunately, many kind Beevillians have provided that assistance for our web-footed friends over the years.

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