Thursday, July 17, 2008


Photos courtesy of the employees of Sterling Bank, Spokane


Dear Nature Lovers
Something really amazing happened in Downtown Spokane this week and I had to share the story with you.

Some of you may know that my brother, Joel, is a loan officer at Sterling Bank. He works downtown in a second story office building, overlooking busy Riverside Avenue. Several weeks ago he watched a mother duck choose the cement awning outside his window as the uncanny place to build a nest above the sidewalk.

The mallard laid nine eggs in a nest in the corner of the planter that is perched over 10 feet in the air. She dutifully kept the eggs warm for weeks and Monday afternoon all of her nine ducklings hatched.

Joel worried all night how the momma duck was going to get those babies safely off their perch in a busy, downtown, urban environment to take to water, which typically happens in the first 48 hours of a duck hatching.

Tuesday morning, Joel came to work and watched the mother duck encourage her babies to the edge of the perch with the intent to show them how to jump off!

The mother flew down below and started quacking to her babies above. To his disbelief Joel watched as the first fuzzy newborn toddled to the edge and astonishingly leapt into thin air, crashing onto the cement below.

My brother couldn't watch how this might play out. He dashed out of his office and ran down the stairs the sidewalk where the first obedient duckling was in a stupor near its mother from the near fatal fall.
Joel looked up. The second duckling was getting ready to jump! He quickly dodged under the awning while the mother duck quacked at him and the babies above. As the second one took the plunge, Joel jumped forward and caught it before it hit the cement. Safe and sound, he set it by the momma and the other stunned sibling, still recovering from its painful leap.
One by one the babies continued to jump to join their family below. Each time Joel hid under the awning just to reach out in the nick of time as the duckling made its fall. The downtown sidewalk came to a standstill. Time after time, Joel was able to catch the remaining 7 and set them by their mother.
At this point Joel realized the duck family had only made part of its dangerous journey. They had 2 full blocks to walk across traffic, crosswalks, curbs, and pedestrians to get to the closest open water, the Spokane River. The onlooking office secretaries then joined in and hurriedly brought an empty copy paper box to collect the babies.
They carefully corralled them, and loaded them up into the white cardboard container. Joel held the box low enough for the mom to see her brood. He then slowly navigated through the downtown streets toward the Spokane River, as the mother waddled behind and kept her babies in sight.

As they reached the river, the mother took over and passed him, jumping into the river, and quacking loudly. At the water's edge, the Sterling Bank office staff then tipped the box and helped shepherd the babies toward the water and to their mother after their ride.
All nine darling ducklings safely made it into the water and paddled up snugly to momma duck. Joel said the mom swam in circles, looking back toward the beaming bank workers.
Thankfully, the secretaries had a digital camera and were able to capture most of it (except the actual mid-air catching) in a series of photographs.
Brother Joel, the Downtown Duck Hero!
Did you notice that though they counted nine eggs, that in the group photos, if you count carefully, there are 10 ducklings? So either they made a mistake in their egg count, or, two of those little ducklings are twins.
Donegal Browne


Karen Anne said...

I guess the stunned duckling was okay or they would have said? Maybe he was the last one out of the box, who looks a bit less alert?

Below is a link to another story about ducklings born on a roof (what is it with roofs?) making it okay to a river, in this case the river Gudenå in Randers, with a little help in the form of a box thru traffic, although they got off the roof by themselves.

Where do ducks normally nest?

Yes, it's in Danish, I post it for the photos. If you click on a tiny photo under the larger photo, that will put that photo in the larger box.

Particularly hair-raising is the photo of the ducklings queued up in the roof gutter preparing to make it to the street.

I copied just the photos to here also:

Karen Anne said...

By the way, this was the third year in a row that the Randers Mom Duck built her nest in the same place, so the Sterling Bank folks may be in for annual repeats...

Sally said...

Awesome story! Thanks for sharing. Ducks do choose the stupidest places for their nests, don't they? They really do NOT plan ahead. I stopped interstate traffic-it was a ramp area- and hearded a bunch of ducklings into a box that another kind soul stopped and got out of their car one day. The mother had apparently nested in the grassy wedge between the express and local lanes, over a watershed area, and walked her babies down next to the concrete barrier and they didn't have anyway to cross. I think we saved most of them; she had already crossed the 3 lane ramp area with the herd once before I got stopped and ran back. What we do for the little creatures of the earth!!!

Katherine said...

what a story! fantastic!

Sharon said...

I just LOVE happy endings! Thanks to Joel and the bank staff who had a part in this successful rescue!

A Musician by Grace

jackboy101 said...

i live in london and my family and i were staying in a hotel near Hydes Park.

As we left for some lunch, a tiny duckling came wizzing past my mums head, smacking the concrete floor. Shortly after mum flew over into a patch of grass over a small wall.

As more little ducklings came hurtling down, we realised they were leaping off a hotel ledge 5 stories up! However it was too late to catch them.

My sis and i urgently scooped the babies off the stony car park and reunited them with their frantically quacking mum.

One of the 5 ducklings appeared to have landed badly and was presumed dead until reunited, though it was left behind several times! It took me about 4 mins to retrieve the lost duckling and catch up with mum. As i did they began to embark on the 200 metre journey across busy city roads and car parks.

On the other side of the road, the ducklings and mother were helped up to the 3 foot high ledge leading to Hyde Park Pond.

Though we were relieved that they survived the 60 foot drop onto concrete and stone, in the shrubary they seemed to be hassled by 2 magpies! As mother doddled off, we could only see 4 ducklings, and after 10 minutes of searchin, the survival of the fifth is still uncertain!!!