Friday, June 29, 2012

Make Way for (Falling) Ducklings

As I was leaving work today, I came across this cute scene.  A mama duck (I presume it is the mama) and her 5 little ducklings.  The location where I spotted them was pretty far from water, so it was strange to see them there.  I had my camera with me so I stopped to take some pictures.

I took a few pictures before I realized she was behaving strangely.  She seemed distressed and was pacing around.  She was quack, quack, quacking and pacing, pacing, pacing and it didn't seem to be related to my photo taking.  I finally put together what the issue was.

Here is what I figured out: She had laid her eggs on a terrace of the 2nd floor of this building.  So, think about that for a minute.  Five little ducklings and mama duck on the ground, but mama wasn't leaving.  Can you guess why? I'll tell you!  She didn't have all of her children down there with her!  You can see in the photo above that the terrace was pretty high up there.  The mama duck had hatched her eggs up there and when the time was right, she led her ducklings over the side of the wall.  The problem (besides the obviously enormous fall!) was that not all of them fell/jumped.  There were distress sounds coming from above.

Every time the mama heard the distress sounds, she would try to figure out where her little one was.  But, as soon as her little ones on the ground lost sight of her, they started to freak out.  Their overpowering distress forced her to come back to them.  This poor duck was being pulled from one crisis to the next with no available solution!  She kept looking at me in a very pointed way.  I am not sure if she was telling me to back off or if it was an exasperated plea for help.

I did end up calling the Landcare office to see if they could access the terrace.  Another passerby and I had determined it wasn't a space that could be accessed from inside of the building, so I was hoping for a ladder.  While I was waiting for someone to show up, a duckling made its way on to the ledge.  After much quacking and peeping, the little one scooted over to a rounded lip on the wall and fell off.  WHOA!  Thankfully the bushes below worked as a cushion. After the duckling got over the shock of falling, mama brought him/her into the fold.  At this point, I called Landcare again and said, "Nevermind!  Problem solved!"

Mama was heading on her way when all of the sudden, "PEEP! PEEP! PEEP!" Duckling number seven!  There was another one up there!  Another call to Landcare yielded the Facilities Management Duckling Rescue Crew: Mark and Andy.  Mark climbed up the tallest ladder they had, which was still too short to reach the terrace.  He wasted no time!  He climbed to the top of the ladder and then with a jump and a lot of upper body oomph, made his way over the ledge.

Duckling #7 was quickly found and passed down to Andy.  Notice how their tallest ladder was way too short to reach the 2nd floor!  I'm telling you, those ducklings all survived a very big fall!

Here is the cuteness I waited an entire hour to see!

Andy offered the little one to the mama who had backed off when the rescue crew arrived.

 I think the mama was grateful for the assistance.

Reunited, they continued on their adventure.  Fingers crossed that they made it to the river without any more drama!

Photo showing only 6 of the 7 ducklings as I didn't want to freak the mama out after we handled #7
A big thank you to the rescue crew.  My call for help came in at shift change, so I am impressed that Facilities Management was able to follow through and get the job done so quickly.  Way to go above and beyond (literally and figuratively!), Andy, Mark and Anatole (from dispatch - sorry if the spelling is off)!

It was totally worth missing my yoga class to be there for the happy ending!  


  1. Oh Trinity, thank you for sharing this wonderful story and for being so clever to figure out the problem. Kudos to U of M lawncare! Becky D.

  2. My mom wanted me to tell you that the mama duck will try to nest there every year if she thinks this nest was successful. Be prepared for yearly duckling rescue! Now you have to work there forever.

  3. Aargh! The misuse of the ladder and risk of injury to Mark from a preventable workplace fall drives me crazy! The ducklings can make this drop with little risk of injury, and you remark that the shrubs helped soften their landing. Not so for Mark. Falls, even from only 6 ft high can cause serious injury and are the most prevalent workplace injury for construction (and probably maintenance) workers! That's an 8 foot a frame ladder, not made to use leaned against a wall. They needed an extension ladder that would extend 3 ft above the top edge pf that ledge for safe access to that little rooftop, by OSHA standards. I know my pontification will turn some readers off, but Mark's very lucky not to have gotten hurt climbing up there, harder yet to get back down, and what if he had fallen? He probably can't afford to be off work long enough for bones, etc. to heal, and may not even have insurance! Steps probably should be taken to deter the duck from nesting there next spring, but of she does, let nature take its course. Or find a way to help that doesn't put good hearted working people at risk!

  4. What a cute story! I am so glad I came upon your blog. I hate it when something like that happens and no one knows how to fix it. At least you got it solved. I don't care what anyone else says, I am glad you got Mama and her ducklings together.


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