Arborist John Kelly from the Care of Trees, while driving to and from clients, noticed a panicked mallard duck and one duckling frantically walking back and forth over a storm sewer grill near the curb this week.
John investigated the curious behavior, immediately finding the reason for the mother duck’s distress. A large number of ducklings had fallen through the gate and were in the storm sewer. Because he had appointments to keep, he quickly contacted a nearby loyal customer Kris Ramirez and asked for help. While Kris was making calls, John also contacted Pat Winkelman of Citizens for Conservation to aid in the rescue.
Kris finally connected with Ela Township where Superintendent Lucy Prouty immediately sent Casey and Jim to rescue the numerous ducklings eager to be reunited with their mother. Meanwhile Pat was contacting Dawn Keller of Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation for assistance. Unfortunately, Dawn was awaiting an injured red-tailed hawk so she could not help with the recovery, but she provided suggestions to help with the rescue.
Several ducklings were pulled from the storm sewer and reunited with their worried mommy, and the entourage began its trek to the nearby wetland. Everyone was happy with the successful rescue until a faint chirping was heard in the pipes. There was still a duckling in the drain! Ela Township’s Casey and Jim continued their efforts to free the duckling from its confines, but the scared and exhausted duckling swiftly sought refuge in the pipes. Pat brought up the Audubon App on her phone and played sounds of mallard ducks to help coax the little duckling out of the pipe. The duckling heard the sounds and rescuers made several unsuccessful attempts to capture it. Stirring up the stagnant rain water increased the putrid odors and made it difficult for Casey to stay in the sewers for long. Casey also mentioned that she had a dental appointment immediate after work and would not have time to shower. Everyone hoped the dental hygienist would understand why Casey arrived smelling rank!
Back to the last duckling. Time was passing and it appeared that the last little duckling would have to work its way though the pipes on its own. Some adults made comments about survival in the wild and stated that nothing more could be done. However, the children did not accept the fate of the last duckling.
Once again using the phone app, Pat played the mallard sounds, and finally rescuers caught the exhausted and frightened duckling. After making the duckling safe and secure, off to the wetlands everyone went to find the mallard family. Feeling skeptical that the family was still nearby, rescuers found a small opening in the thick and invasive phragmites in a nearby yard. Scanning the wetland, one of the children quickly whispered that he had found the mother and her babies. Once in the water, the last rescued duckling quickly swam to the thick reeds, but mother heard her baby and urgently quacked and swam to the faint chirping of her baby.
The last sight everyone had was of the baby almost walking on water as fast as it could while mother duck swam to reunite with her last remaining chick. On land, all was quiet until a loud cheer was heard when mom and all her ducklings were reunited!
Due to the diligence of the local children, this story has a happy ending. The children took the time to assist nature in need, to experience making a difference first-hand, and to walk away with the understanding that all life is important. What an incredible lesson to learn in a few hours of a summer afternoon.
Thank you to John Kelly, Casey and Jim, Pat Winkelman of Citizens for Conservation, and Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation. A very special thank you to Deer Park residents Kris Ramirez, Sarah Jasonowicz, Maeve Schumacher, Carmen Ramirez, Carlos Ramirez, Mikey Schumacher, Peyton Bendix, and last but not least Thomas Petrovic, whose height and long arms made it possible to rescue the last duckling. It was a successful collaborative effort by all.
Submitted by Citizens for Conservation