Mallard Ducks Downtown

2019 June 5

So, on Monday, June 3, 2019, I was just coming out of Swift’s Hardware downtown when I heard a duck quacking loudly somewhere nearby. So I looked around, and across the street I saw the two people who had come out of the hardware store just before me, watching a female mallard duck standing there making a fuss. So I crossed the street to see what was going on. By the time I got across the road, the reason for her fussing had appeared: her ducklings had caught up with her.

It looks like she had been nesting where some grass and shrubbery were growing in the gap between buildings, behind the barber shop. Here’s a Google Street View image of the spot, the chicks were popping out from behind that wooden gate to the right.


And now, Momma Duck found herself in a bit of a predicament. She clearly wanted to get her ducklings down to the water, but to do so she would have start at The Barber Shop (lower left), get across Shelden Avenue (which is probably the busiest street in town, and maybe the busiest in the whole county), and then go down Huron Street all the way to the Waterfront Park (upper right).


Well, clearly we couldn’t just leave them all there, so as soon as there was a bit of a break in traffic, I went out in the street to stop the oncoming cars while the couple who had originally spotted the duck herded them across the road. This went pretty smoothly, I doubt if we blocked traffic for more than 30 seconds.

After that, it was just a matter of making sure that she didn’t wander back out into traffic again[1]. While going down the sidewalk, a straggler duckling suddenly shot across the road and joined up with them.

Once we turned left onto Huron Street (which has hardly any traffic), she just went right down the middle, while I walked along slowly behind them ready to stop any cars that might have come down the hill. Other people positioned themselves to block traffic coming from side streets, and to keep the ducklings away from sewer grates.


Finally, just as they got to the lake and started to swim off, a couple came running down the hill with yet another straggler. The little guy hit the water and was off like a rocket, meeting up with the family in no time.

I then went up to the place where they had come from, and the couple who had helped get them across the street were trying to catch one more stray duckling. Between the three of us, we were finally able to catch it, and I ran it down to the lake. Luckily, the mother was still close enough that we could release him, and he eventually caught up.

Granted that there are a lot of other hazards for ducklings to get through before they grow up, but at least we helped to get them past their first big one.

[1] If you would like to see how she proceeded, Samantha Mathews posted this video on Facebook. The video starts just after the ducks got across Sheldon, and follows them all the way down to the water.

Be sure to watch the bit at the end where the straggler catches up. Ducklings can really move once they get in the water.

(I’m the guy in the orange coat that is visible in some of the wider shots)

5 Responses
  1. Anne Bingham permalink
    June 6, 2019

    Advisory: video doesn’t show up in Firefox, Tim, although it works just fine in Safari and Chrome. Using Firefox 67.0. — it just updated overnight, so maybe it broke something?

  2. June 6, 2019

    Huh. It works OK in the version of FireFox on my machine, although there was a weird glitch where my whole screen went black for a few seconds. My version is 60.7.0, though.

  3. Sandra Eisele permalink
    June 6, 2019

    When you posted the map it looked like the setup for a really cute logic problem.

  4. Anne Bingham permalink
    June 6, 2019

    Tim, I checked my preference and now I’m wondering if it’s because I have Content Blocking set up for “Block third-party content that tracks you around the web. Control how much of your online activity gets stored and shared between websites.”

    Not that I think Facebook would even think to track anybody’s activity around the web… *snork*

  5. June 12, 2019


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