There is a gorgeous courtyard where I work. A fountain, lots of wonderful landscaping and a great habitat for birds, including ducks. Every year, a mallard mom lays her eggs in the courtyard and raises a family. This year, there were two moms - one with 8 babies and one with 11. That's 21 ducks in a very small courtyard. Not healthy for the ducks or the fountain! So we decided to relocate the family of 12 (the duck dads were absentee fathers: wham, bam, thank you ma'am). The Maintenance staff noticed that the ducklings could not climb out of the fountain so they built a small brick staircase for them. It worked. I wish I could have gotten a picture of the ducklings climbing the stairs!
So one afternoon last week two Maintenance staff (Craig and Josh), a Marketing Department staffer (Heather) and I gathered empty trashcans and cameras and trooped into the courtyard. Both moms (Ethel and Lucy) were sitting under a tree on the babies (it was drizzling). We approached cautiously, but the moms hissed and made their displeasure known.
Check out the gorgeous blue on Ethel's wing.
Hard to believe she could fit 11 ducklings under her.
One by one, we gathered chicks - or should I say we TRIED to gather chicks. It was cold and muddy and rainy. Here were four educated, mature adults outsmarted by tiny balls of fluff. They ran under hedges and bushes and darted between our legs as we lunged helplessly after them. We got scratched by thorns and twigs, covered with mud and leaves and rain.
Catching the ducklings may have been
Heather enjoying her new friend before putting him in the trashcan with his brothers and sisters (with Craig and Josh still on duckling patrol in the background).
I tried holding them the way Bill Hilton taught us at
the bird banding demonstration at New River Nature and Birding Festival.
It calmed them right down. (Check out the mud on my hands and arms).
After an hour, we had located nine ducklings. We had to give up - the rain was getting harder and we were afraid of stressing out the family any more than we already had. We assumed that Lucy would adopt the two leftover ducklings into her brood (we checked back early the next morning and she had done just that). It was time to move the family to their new home (the pond on the campus about 1/4 mile away).
The new home for the transplanted family.