On a warm Summer Day, a family of resident ducks went for a stroll. This duck family needed help from the Fire Department before the day was done.
Our new neighborhood has a community pond that has been adopted as a home base for several families of ducks. Some are mallards with their beautiful green necks.
Some are domestic ducks. They come in all color combinations. The black ones with white necks and chests remind me of penguins as the drakes waddle along, typically in a group.
One of the black hens with white markings we named Henrietta. Every day, she brought her brood of ducklings to rest under the red maple beside our sunroom. We had a front row seat to watch the ducklings grow from day to day. We gave them fresh water, but took feed to the pond each day.
The ducks wander about during the day throughout the streets of the community when they aren’t swimming at the pond. Ducks are monogamous during one mating season, but may choose another mate the next season. When the ducklings are very small, the drake stays nearby for a short time.
After a duck was killed by a car, the homeowner’s association installed speed bumps in the neighborhood to slow down the traffic and they moniter speed to keep our community safe for children, walkers and ducks..
Some of the ducks have markings like abstract paintings with varied patterns of brown, tan, cinnamon and white stripes… some have a formal looking tweedy vest, and some have black polka dots on their white chests.
Some of the brown mature ducks have a navy blue stripe on the sides of their wings. The baby ducklings are various shades of black and white and brown….with tiny black bills. Some have yellow on their necks and upper breast when they are young.
Occasionally mixed into with a large brood, there are 2-3 butter yellow baby ducklings with orange bills and orange webbed feet.. They are storybook gorgeous. My husband names them Marilyns. They seemed to be the first to disappear. I wonder if large predator birds or turtles can see them easier?
Mother ducks would never be accused of neglect. Ducklings stay with their mothers for 6-8 weeks, trailing along after her. When they are small, they gather under mother’s body, so 18 or more can be completely hidden.
As they grow in later weeks, the mother hen hustles to stay up with them, but she keeps them together. They continue to sleep a lot when young and to sleep in a heap touching one another.
I noticed that only a small percentage of the ducklings tended to survive …. maybe 5 or 6 only from large litters of 18 and 21. An internet check revealed that this is typical for wild ducks.
One afternoon this Summer, Ethyl and her brood went for a fateful stroll… The ducklings veered off the sidewalk to the edge of the street, and one by one, followed their siblings down the sewer drain. An alert neighbor called the fire department and Engine 28 responded…our heroes to the rescue.
I snapped a picture of one of the fireman with his arms and torso stretched down inside the drain as he searched for the ducklings..
Success! He kept at it until he retrieved all but one of the ducklings.. and they were pulled out to safety and an anxious mother duck..
The duck family was soon on its way back to Spring Park pond, apparently none the worse for the experience in the sewer.
The neighbors expressed their gratitude to the Fireman for the rescue. I sent them some tomatoes from the garden, with a pound of bacon, to make bacon and tomato sandwiches for their lunch in the Firehouse .
And the ducks went on their way back to Spring Park Pond.
Sue Marquis Bishop 2014
12 thoughts on “Ducklings Rescue at Spring Park Pond”
Sue I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed your pictures. I miss my ducks so much. Years ago Tom & I cared for the original 4. Two black and white we named Henry & Hilda and two true Mallards, Sally & George. Each year Sally and George would come in the Spring and nest at our house until one year Henry & Hilda wanted to join. That was the last year we saw Sally & George. Hilda the female black duck was hit by a car in front of our house which broke our souls. We buried her and tended after George. Later in the season George came to the patio door with a new friend we named Annie. Annie nested by the end of the garden under the bush near the garage service door. We did like you and provided them water under the Red Maple Tree and watched them grow. We increased the size of the tub of water as they grew and just loved watching them. The winter prior to selling our home to you was quite cold so every afternoon I would walk to the pond and take cracked corn or regular corn I got from Davis Hardware so they’d have food while the pond was mostly froze over. Various neighbors have sent me pics and emails about how so many are taking care of my ducks. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! They brought us so much joy.
Peggy, how delightful to hear from you. I think of you often and hope you are settling in your new home. I say “thanks Peggy” when I am working in the kitchen for the lovely kitchen you planned. You are right. We feel at home here. Stay in touch. Sue
Terrific post, Sue. Your photos are fantastic and the story telling compliments the photos perfectly. It’s pleasing when life offers us such daily pleasures as a mother duck with the ducklings gathered for an adventure and life lessons.
Thank you Sheri. There are many blessings around us if we pay attention. When I take time to notice, I am often surprised. I hope you are doing well. Sue
I loved this post, perhaps because the other day on the golf course my husband saw a plucky mother duck attack and beat a hawk with her wings after it had fallen from the sky and pinned one of her ducklings. The hawk gave up and fled, but the baby had died. I guess if we love nature, we can’t impose our own definition of acceptable behavior.
Wow! What a scene to witness. I can imagine the mixed feelings he had when he saw this attack…You are right… they are part of a chain.. but it’s hard to watch a helpless one… sue
What a wonderful story. I was enthralled. Great photos, and I learned so much. Had a little panic attack about the sewer event, but relieved to know that most made it back to “mom.” And I’m not surprised that so many don’t make it as it stands to reason they have such a large brood. Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed this. Patsye
Patsye, So glad you enjoyed it. Isn’t it. Interesting how the ducks have adapted to city living.
Lovely heartwarming post. I’m a sucker for the feathered ones… luv’ a duck 🙂
I love this story and the photos are just so endearing. Every day on my bike ride I see ducks, sometimes ducklings, and geese. It SO makes the ride more enjoyable. They are seen crossing the street IN THE CROSSWALKS all the time!!!
Isn’t it interesting how these animals have adapted to city life? And nothing like a baby duck to make us smile. Sue