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July 15, 2008 9:03 AM   Subscribe

"Something really amazing happened in Downtown Spokane..." Slide show (annoying interface, but worth it for the cuteness).
posted by rtha (43 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Great story. It would've been nice if one of the photos showed the ducklings being caught. Also, I'm reminded of this mother duck who seems to have a lot more on the ball in the smarts department than the Spokane duck.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:12 AM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have no idea why, but I had a strong feeling that this would be about a duck before I clicked on anything.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 9:14 AM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

As an ornithological point of order, you should never touch baby birds - no matter how cute they are. It can lead the mother to reject them.

That said, most experts agree that letting them fall 15 feet onto concrete isn't so good either.
posted by Jofus at 9:15 AM on July 15, 2008

A quacking class hero is something to be.
posted by phirleh at 9:26 AM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's actually a myth that handling a baby bird will cause the parents to reject it.
posted by annaramma at 9:26 AM on July 15, 2008 [5 favorites]

Actually, the don't-touch-baby-birds thing is, as far as I know, a myth.

Most birds have virtually no sense of smell (vultures are the big exception). I've seen video and stills of scientists banding peregrine falcon fledglings and nestlings, and while the parents are clearly outraged (it's good to wear a helmet if you're going to do this), they don't reject the babies once they're banded.
posted by rtha at 9:26 AM on July 15, 2008

jinx! thanks for the cite, annaramma.
posted by rtha at 9:27 AM on July 15, 2008

"Hero to ducks" is a more honorable title than those most of us will earn. What a great little story.
posted by ardgedee at 9:27 AM on July 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

As an ornithological point of order, you should never touch baby birds - no matter how cute they are. It can lead the mother to reject them.

That's what I was told... That's what I told my daughter, but for three years in a row, a couple of Robin's have nested under our deck, near the stairs... Within arms reach of my daughter... One day, I came home to find the chicks on the lawn... She had been taking them out and putting them back for days. The previous year they handled the eggs (again knowing they were not supposed too), my son accidentally broke one because he was so nervous (and about three at the time), I found the shell on the deck after...

Yet... they keep coming back...

(I call 'em my "S&M birds"...)
posted by jkaczor at 9:33 AM on July 15, 2008

You owe me a coke, rtha.
posted by annaramma at 9:33 AM on July 15, 2008

jkaczor, those are some "dirty birds."
posted by annaramma at 9:35 AM on July 15, 2008

I work right on a river and we frequently get traffic jams in my area from duck and goose families crossing the street in spring. I'm always pleased when I realize that I've been stuck in bumper to bumper for five minutes it's because people are being kind to birds, not due to a traffic accident.

And I went looking for a video of a wood duck jumping from a tree, and I found this. No high speed leaping, but there is much duckling sweetness about a minute in.
posted by quin at 9:44 AM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

I love ducks! Thanks a bunch for posting this, rtha. Mother Duck has my sympathies for having to eke out a living in a human-dominated environment, but I'm actually surprised that she would be so seemingly careless in the guidance of her young. We're not talking about a height unheard-of in nature, so shouldn't natural selection have weeded out this type of young-endangering behavior? Perhaps the young ducks weren't in serious danger from the fall, after all.
posted by chudmonkey at 9:54 AM on July 15, 2008

Hopefully that mama duck will come back year after year after year, now that she's found such a great nesting spot. Year after year after year...

Enjoy it, duck-catching guy.
posted by rusty at 9:56 AM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Um... I've seen baby birds jump/fall down quite far and get right up and start walking without any visible distress. Not to piss on a cute story, but I think that these birds would have been just fine without Joel Armstrong catching them. Nonetheless, I think this is a very cute story and I picture Armstrong as silent film comedy hero. Somehow the picture I have in my head is very Harold Lloydesque (who is incredibly funny).
posted by Kattullus at 10:09 AM on July 15, 2008

I thought I saw Louden Swain.
posted by Senator at 10:44 AM on July 15, 2008

Duck Hero is a video game adaptation waiting to be made.

(But what would the controller look like?)
posted by bicyclefish at 10:45 AM on July 15, 2008

It could be a Wii game and your controller would be the handle of a net. This could have the added bonus of, at some point, having a net full of ducklings on the screen, with their legs and beaks sticking out all akimbo.
posted by quin at 10:57 AM on July 15, 2008 [3 favorites]

Make Way for Ducklings! This was one of my favorite books as a kid.
posted by orrnyereg at 10:59 AM on July 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

It's too bad they didn't die on impact.

Don't get me wrong, I don't wish the ducklings harm but their mother should suffer that horrific ordeal so she'll learn how to manage her children.

There's not a year goes by that I don't read about an accident involving some bastard ducks that could've been easily avoided had some parent -- I don't care which one, but some parent -- conditioned them to fear and respect that sidewalk!
posted by sportbucket at 11:14 AM on July 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

They carefully corralled them, with the mother's approval

Somehow I doubt this. What, did you she write them a thank you note? Send flowers?
posted by Justinian at 11:20 AM on July 15, 2008

I have watched both mallards and Canada geese raise young, and I gotta say, mallards are not very good parents. There's a reason why broods tend to be large - not many will survive to adulthood.

The males don't help much (or at all), and the female will just let the ducklings swim wherever with very little supervision. The Canadas, OTOH, will carefully tend their young, with one parent leading the nestlings (usually 2-4 birds) and the other swimming along at the back of the line.
posted by rtha at 11:26 AM on July 15, 2008

This story would have been great if it ended like this:

"As we all watched the ducklings happily swimming behind the mama duck, we were horrified as a GIANT FRESHWATER CROCODILE swallowed the entire family in one gulp."

Probably there aren't many GIANT FRESHWATER CROCODILES in Spokane, though.

But if there were, that would be a great ending.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:34 AM on July 15, 2008 [4 favorites]

Next to my birth, and the great A&W orgy of 1971, this is the best thing that ever happened in Spokane.
posted by mds35 at 11:42 AM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

More bad duck parenting.
posted by Justinian at 11:45 AM on July 15, 2008 [4 favorites]

(suggested background music)
posted by Pronoiac at 11:58 AM on July 15, 2008

Last year I was driving down McCormick Blvd, (zoom in for scale) a 4-lane through street with an average speed of 50 mph when a mother duck and her brood decided to cross (there's a canal and park on one side). I was the first car they would have come to, so I stopped to let her by. The first cars to realize what was happening were the oncoming ones who could see the duck parade blocking my car, so the oncoming traffic also stopped. This made the other lane of traffic on my side curious, and finally someone realized what was happening and stopped. Soon both lanes in both directions on a busy 4-lane street just stopped and waited for these ducks. There was no honking or impatience as people realized what was going on. When they got all the way across, people cheered, waved at each other and went on their way.

It was great. Thanks for reminding me of this rtha!
posted by nax at 12:16 PM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

and Justinian, oh my god, just opened your link. You are officially forgiven for past snark on another thread. (Sorry for the double post, I'll remember to read the whole thread *first* next time.)
posted by nax at 12:19 PM on July 15, 2008

I used to work at Disneyland, the was rough. If it wasn't the kids coming after them, it was the river traffic, or the grebes...
posted by anazgnos at 12:35 PM on July 15, 2008


I had a baby pigeon fall out of the nest onto my deck from about 8 or 9 feet. He was fine. I put him back in the nest. A couple days later he fell out again. He was very cute and liked wandering about my deck but he wandered about a bit too much and fell off my deck, two stories to the ground, and died.

I had another baby pigeon fall out of the same nest onto my deck a couple of months later. This one I left alone even though he constantly hovered near the death ledge. He hid himself behind my big flower pots. His parents kept feeding him and I kept my distance. He finally got big enough to fly away.

Now I wish those dirty rat birds would get off my deck. The pigeon shit under the nest is ankle deep.
posted by shoesietart at 12:36 PM on July 15, 2008

heh heh

Life can be real tough for nesting, here in Spokane
Ever ready, never resting, enters Duck Man!
A leap of fifteen feet? Down onto concrete?
Duck Man, woo-oo!
Mom's a slacker, catch that quacker,
Duck Man, woo-oo!

D-d-d-danger, mind that duckling! - got the strangers all a-chuckling
To the river? He'll deliver! Duck Man, oo-oo!
Don't cross traffic, that'd be graphic, Duck Man, oo-oo!
With a box for the brood, he's an awesome dude, he's Duck Man, oo-oo!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:44 PM on July 15, 2008

Don't get me wrong, I don't wish the ducklings harm but their mother should suffer that horrific ordeal so she'll learn how to manage her children.

And that duckling... is BACK on the ESCALATOR!
posted by FatherDagon at 1:23 PM on July 15, 2008

Strange karma. The following appeared in the Toronto Star's "Random Acts of Kindness" today:

At about 1:30 pm in the afternoon at Yonge and Queens Quay, I found a group of people and two men with jackets trying to save baby ducklings that had hatched on [a ledge] on the second storey of the [Toronto Star] building.

The ducklings were jumping off after their mom. The men did their best to save the ones they could. They caught two, and six more crashed before they could get to them.

Seven ducklings appeared fine, but the eighth was in dire straits and barely moving. Two women took the baby with them for animal control and the men along with the onlookers stopped traffic to allow them to cross the street to the lake.

I find comfort in the people, especially the two men, who gathered to try to save them. Thank you all for doing your best.
Diana Strohl, Scarborough

So apparently the duck survival rate when jumping from an office building's second-story concrete planter is 7/8, or +/- 88%.
posted by bicyclefish at 1:52 PM on July 15, 2008

aw. thanks for posting this!
posted by CitizenD at 2:04 PM on July 15, 2008

Wood ducks nest in trees, and the fledglings make the jump down, in the following case, a 15-foot drop. Here's the video. Cool, huh? I've also seen video where they jump out onto the ground rather than into water. I suppose it makes sense that other ducks would do the same.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:52 PM on July 15, 2008

You don't get many chances for glory in Spokane. This was completely precious.
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:26 PM on July 15, 2008

posted by Quietgal at 7:01 PM on July 15, 2008

Oh wow. How about the English version, even?

Ambrosia's awesome song made me think of Duckman, but he doesn't fit the happy cheerful thread very well. Except the vultures. Why would a vulture have a developed sense of smell, anyway?
posted by Pronoiac at 8:10 PM on July 15, 2008

Well. That'll teach my to post half-remembered, ornothological old-wives tales to Metafilter.
posted by Jofus at 4:57 AM on July 16, 2008

Flamingos can give you AIDS. FACT!
posted by Jofus at 4:57 AM on July 16, 2008

We had mallards and other ducks when I was growing up. I've seen daddy ducks take over the parenting when the mama duck dies. Otherwise, yeah, they didn't hang around much.
posted by lysdexic at 9:47 AM on July 16, 2008

Would this make up for him being a loan officer?
posted by zouhair at 8:18 AM on July 22, 2008

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