DUCKLINGS IN DANGER

I wanted to write about the touching plight of a mother duck and her five babies right after I happened on the scene a few weeks ago. But continuing problems at my co-op distracted me. And I was still feeling low with bronchitis.

On a beautiful Sunday in June, Honey and I went for a walk in Silver Lake Park in nearby Baldwin, Long Island. We’d been there the day before, and I was delighted to see five ducklings following their mother in formation. I’d forgotten to bring my camera, so we went back again, this time with my Canon PowerShot. No sign of the new family.

After our usual circle around the lake, I stopped to look at the view this perfect afternoon — sunshine, sparkling water, trees, flowers, geese, ducks, seagulls, one egret. As I leaned on a fence over a basin where water streamed down a  cement divider, I saw the babies in the pool below, swimming frantically under a foot-long waterfall, with the mother quacking above them.  She alternated diving down to be with them and flying up again, spreading her alarm to other geese and ducks swimming towards her.

I couldn’t just keep walking. After getting advice from a man nearby, I called 911 and was told to call a wildlife rescue number — a recording answered. Then I called the local precinct, admitted this may not be a real emergency,and asked if someone could come to help   A young officer, Brian, soon arrived in his patrol car.  We decided a net was needed, and he went off to ring doorbells, returning with a pool net and a neighbor carrying another one.

A second patrol car drove up with two more policeme — and a small crowd, including excited children, collected to watch Brian and the woman try to scoop up the ducklings. Frightened, they swam dizzily and were too quick to catch. The mother protested, too, flying and flapping in the air over them.  We all cheered when Brian caught one baby and deposited it in the lake above,  joined by the mother who stayed by its side for a few minutes — then dove into the pool to be with the other four.  The fifth dove in after her — wanting to be with family, rather than safe and alone   A loud groan from the sidelines!

Then the six ducks swam beneath an archway where the lake flowed under the street  to a canal on the other side and disappeared from sight. People assured me the little creatures would find their way out.  I hoped they weren’t confused in the dark, but decided to go home with Honey, who had seemed interested in the event.  Nothing else could be done for now. I went up to Brian, who looked dejected, thanked him and said he’d helped restore my faith.  A grumpy, older officer asked: “Faith in what?”  I replied: “In humanity?  In the police?” No reply. Just a frown.

I called the precinct the next day to ask what happened after I left, but Brian and the others were off duty. Honey and I drove to the park and — wonder of wonders — the water in the basin was level with the lake —  I’d never seen that before.  And momma and her babies were contentedly paddling together near the shore.  Mother Nature to the rescue.

Robert McCloskey’s beloved picture book, “Make Way for Ducklings,” comes to mind, wherein a kindly policeman stops traffic for a mallard family as they parade to and from their home in the Boston Public Garden.  We’re all on the same voyage, and a little help with navigation is nice.

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4 Comments »

  1. Lovely story Eileen ….B

    • Thanks, Barbara. I appreciate your encouragement! I changed the last sentence to fit my general theme better. Will alternate stuff about my “perils” with posts like “Under the Weather” and “Ducklings…” As I said, I’m enjolying your fun posts, too. Eileen

  2. Thanks for your comments on mine Eileen. You will be in the draw…B

  3. Kristina Rus said

    Hi Eileen,

    Wonderful story! I’m so glad it had a happy ending! You were so kind to take the time and get involved.

    Kris

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