Ducks, trucks and a rescue

FiretruckThe day started like every other for the Muscovy duck mother. Her brood of nine flounced along behind her. The fluffy yellow and brown downy bodies were like little wind-up toys waddling behind their mom. A full-grown Muscovy duck has a face a bit like a turkey. It has bright red mounds of skin marking the eyes and bill area creating markings that appear as a face-mask.

Millie, the mother duck, hadn’t been wandering out quite this far before with her little ones. It was time to introduce them to the bigger world. Moving across open space in familiar territory was refreshing. She confidently crossed the parking lot and waddled with large, webbed feet over the sewer grate. She had done this a hundred times before while alone. As she went forward, it never occurred to her to look behind.

Suddenly, she felt quite alone. Turning around, all she saw was the familiar grate in the middle of the parking lot. Then she started to hear chirps of her little ones. She waddled towards the sound. Looking down, she saw nine small, fluffy bodies swimming in a round pool of water. They were further than a human’s arm length below. She began to call back to her ducklings.

A neighbor in the apartment complex came outside and heard the calls of mother and offspring. With the mother duck running around the sewer grate and sounds of unseen ducklings, it didn’t take long to figure out what had happened. Civilization often brings unexpected dangers to wildlife. That grate was way too heavy for the neighbor to lift herself, and the water was too far below to reach. Some professional help was definitely needed! True, but what kind of professional would one call? She had never heard of a duck rescue number in the city.

She found the non-emergency city number, and a fire truck was soon dispatched. When the firemen arrived, they removed the grate, but saw that they could not reach the ducks. People started gathering around the area when they saw the fire truck in the neighborhood. A spaghetti colander with string to lower down to the ducks was offered. That didn’t work, because the little ducks kept swimming away. A net was needed to quickly snatch the scared babies.

When firemen from the first fire truck saw that they would not be able to complete the rescue, a second truck was dispatched with the proper equipment on it. A long-poled net was put down the hole, and one by one the little ducks were brought up. The firemen tried to carefully round up each of the ducklings to reconnect with their mother.

It wasn’t simple to get all of the ducklings out and back with their mother. The firemen had obviously done this rescue procedure before and knew that each of the ducklings had to reconnect promptly as a family. After a round-up effort that would have made a shepherding border collie proud, all nine of them were accounted for.

Millie promptly went back to the quiet canal in the park next door with her brood behind her. One by one the little ones followed her into the quiet water to rinse off  the dirty water they had been swimming in. Then they followed her to rest quietly by the shade of the oak tree and nestled in the soft green grass.

The firemen put the net back on the truck with the crucial equipment they carried for emergencies. They went back to the firehouse and waited for their next emergency call. The neighbor went back to her apartment and considered the act of kindness that she had been a part of. The resident ducks may not be beautiful, but they’ve found a way into her heart.