Mommy Duck adopted a nest on the east ledge sometime during the first week of May,
settling in on top of three eggs left there by a previous duck. On Saturday May 12,
she laid nine eggs of her own. Just four days later, her three adopted eggs hatched.
The following morning she brought her three adoptees to the lake, leaving behind her
nine eggs, which were still 21 days from hatching. This year, the family's trip
ended in the marsh just 100 feet shy of Lake of the Isles. She nested there with her
chicks for several hours. Her nine abandoned eggs fell quietly asleep to find
3 small images from camcorder
Some years ago, a duck chose the east ledge of the Sons of Norway building
in Uptown Minneapolis to nest and hatch her chicks. She has returned every
year except for 2006.
A couple other ducks have at least once made their nests at other ledge
locations on the east and north side of the building.
These ducks, mallards, incubate their eggs for 24 to 26 days. On the
morning after hatching, Mommy duck (hen) leads her ducklings (chicks)
on a daring leap off the 36 inch ledge down to the concrete sidewalk -
about the highest jump the ducklings can survive.
Thus begins their harrowing journey to the lakes, about 3/4 mile distant,
typically through unsuspecting morning rush hour traffic.
Though these ducks are wild, they've chosen to nest among us and accept
hospitality from us in the form of clean water, feed, respectful visits
and temporary awnings for shade on scorching days.
During the five years that I've been involved with these ducks,
I've yet to see a journey where they would likely have made it safely
without an escort. Besides stopping fast moving traffic as it rounds
a blind curve, the human escort assists the ducks through obstacles
such as chain link fences which can appear in the ducks' path at the
end of residential yard cul de sacs.
Ducklings that fall off the ledge in the middle of the night prior to
the morning's journey are returned to the ledge by a rubber gloved human
on night watch. On one journey, a duckling was saved by a human just
as it was falling into a storm sewer grate.
When it's evident the journey is about to begin, a well placed cardboard
box can serve as an intermediate ledge onto which the ducklings can leap.
These Mommy ducks make many friends among the Sons of Norway employees
as well as many local residents and other nearby business employees.
We're always relieved when we learn they have made it to their new home.
Daddy duck (drake) keeps watch over Mommy from his perch on top of a
nearby three story building. Even when not on his perch, he never seems
to be too far away. He watches over the progress of the journey from
high in the sky and swoops down to greet the family shortly after their
arrival at the lake. He has even made mid-journey visits.