The Mallards of Menomonee: A Fairytale Ending Thanks to Old Town Neighbors

The day began rather unremarkably for a June summer day, hot and humid with no chance of rain.  So Chuck and I began our daily ritual of watering.  Pretty soon we noticed a contingent of neighbors gathering around the side of a building.  We ambled over to find them staring in awe and wonder at a darling brace of eight ducklings with their mother huddled under an SUV on scorching hot asphalt.  Her mouth was open and she was panting.  From what I learned, they had begun their journey farther down Menomonee St. only to find the "direct" path to the park blocked by a large brick fence.

We all knew they weren't doing well where they were so an army of neighbors herded them into a cool garage where they enjoyed a light spritzing of water to cool them  down.  They were so cute drinking water off of their mother's back.  As we oohed and ahhed, another realization hit, what do we do next?!  First, we decided they needed to rest in the comfort of this cool building.  So while they calmed down, we all Googled "What to do with a lost duck and ducklings".  The first place I contacted was a rescue for birds that had collided with buildings.  She said she would have someone call me back who specialized in this sort of thing.   I beg to differ since the woman I finally spoke to confessed to me that she had never done this sort of thing before!  This course of action sure wouldn't work so after another call for advice to the Audubon Society, we decided to take matters into our own hands.

And I know the party line on interfering with nature, NOT to do it, but in this case, you tell me if you would've trusted this little band of fuzzy friends to cross 8 lanes of traffic all by themselves.  I didn't think so!

The mother instinctively knew how to get to the park and water, she just didn't count on the fact that she had to take her babies through high traffic areas to do it!

The ducklings were definitely newborns.   I've never seen birds this small and yet so determined.  The mom began her walk down Wells St. and decided to cross at Perennial Virant where there was a three-lane intersection.   Panic set in as we stopped traffic in all directions but, surprisingly, everyone cooperated.  I even saw people in their cars taking Iphone pics of this little band of birds.

First obstacle crossed and now for the BIG highway,  four lanes of traffic on Clark St.  Heck, I'm even afraid to cross this street so what chance did these little birds stand?   Again, the same delightful reaction...the drivers all stopped.  And except for one disgruntled looking cab driver, everyone seemed thrilled to see this amazing sight.

So now she was really running and the babies were having trouble keeping up.  She could sense the pond was close and she needed to get herself and her little ones into that water.   Stockton was a cakewalk compared to Clark St. and we didn't think twice about walking into the middle of the road to help with this final obstacle.

And now we were ALL running to keep up.......the babies sure could move fast for being only 3 inches long!  And there was the Lincoln Park Pond right ahead of us.  But wait, is that CHICKEN WIRE blocking the water?  OMG!  Yes!  The mallard kept banging her head frantically against the wire trying to get in.  It was heartbreaking.  One of the little guys even became entangled in it.  So finally we pulled the wire up and shooed them all under ......It was the most joyful sight we've ever seen except it was a little hard to see with tears streaming down our faces.  As we watched them all swim out toward the island, we saw other ducks and ducklings paddling away.  There was a whole nursery going on out there!  Who knew!?

Sometimes nature can be so cruel but not on this day, not on our watch!


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  • Thanks for this great story! So nice to hear about the goodness of people, especially when it comes to animal welfare. Thanks to all the Old Town neighbors who made sure these ducks had a happy home.

  • In reply to elaA:

    Thanks so much for this nice comment Ela! It was truly a memory I will have forever....and I loved the fact that all of the neighbors banded together to help. There really is hope in this world for protecting our wildlife! Have a great week and thanks for reading....:-)

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    What a beautifully touching story! I love it when things work out for the best!!!! Good for the little duck family!! I'm cheering over here!

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