On May 10, 2021, I published an article about the NYPD’s rescuing a duck family from the streets of Midtown Manhattan. That story inspired me to use various search engines to find other duck rescue stories. I soon learned that it is not uncommon for ducks – most commonly ducklings – to require assistance from police officers, firefighters, and/or ordinary good Samaritans. While this Around the Web post is not a comprehensive survey of duck rescue stories found online, I collected a good amount of duck and duckling rescue content for your enjoyment.

Employees of an Elyria Target work to rescue ducklings from a storm drain - credit Rona Proudfoot (CC-BY-SA)
Scene from a Target duckling rescue not covered in this article: “Duckling rescue effort at the Elyria Target Tuesday” by ronnie44052 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The New Leaf Journal: “The NYPD’s Duck Family Rescue in Midtown Manhattan”

Nicholas A. Ferrelll. May 10, 2021.

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On May 10, I published an article about the NYPD’s rescuing a duck family that appeared to have become lost in Midtown Manhattan. That article was based on a New York Post article by Natalie O’Neill and Jorge Fitz-Gibbon titled “NYPD rescues ducklings who wander into Midtown traffic.” This post inspired my idea to look for other duck rescue articles.

CBS Boston: “Malden Police Assist With ‘Daring Duckling Rescue’ On Mother’s Day”

CBS Boston Staff. May 9, 2021.

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I will use our second duck rescue story to transition from last week’s Mother’s Day Around the Web post to the new content.

On Mother’s Day, two Malden Police Officers, Munyon and Doherty, discovered several ducklings “on a detour down a storm drain.”

That could put a damper on a mother duck’s Mother’s Day.

Fortunately, officers Munyon and Doherty, under the direction of a Captain Hopkins, rescued the 11 ducklings from the storm drain and reunited them with their mother. The officers reported that the duck family “waddled safely away.” They had a happy Mother’s Day in the end.

27 ABC WKOW.COM: “Duck family reunited after daring storm sewer rescue”

Emma Fried. April 30, 2021.

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In Beloit, Wisconsin, a mother duck lost her ducklings in a storm sewer. Someone alerted the City of Beloit Fire Department of this terrible state of affairs. Fortunately, the local firefighters were able to get into the storm sewer and rescue all of the baby ducklings. The responding firefighters stated that it looked like the reunited duck family was “heading to some water to enjoy the weekend together.”

Poughkeepsie Journal: “Ducklings caught in Poughkeepsie storm drain needed rescue. Here’s what happened.”

Michael P. McKinney. May 11, 2021.

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The Manhattan duck family was not the only New York duck family to find itself in a pickle during the past week. In Poughkeepsie, 10 ducklings wandered into a storm drain. Police arrived on scene, but they were unable to access the storm drain. They called Poughkeepsie’s Highway Department. The brave officers of the Highway Department were able to access the storm drain and rescue the ducklings.

After the ducklings were safely extracted from the storm drain, an animal control officer waited with the ducklings for their mother to return. The mother duck did return, and her 10 ducklings followed her home.

Space Coast Daily: “Brevard Fire Rescue Crew Saves Mother Duck, Ducklings Stuck in Drainage Pipe in West Melbourne”

Space Coast Daily. May 10, 2021.

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We move south to West Melbourne, Florida, for our fourth duck rescue story. A distressed mother duck called for help after her ducklings fell into a drainage pipe. According to Brevard County Fire Rescue officials, the mother duck was actually calling (or quacking) for help.

The Brevard County Fire Rescue officials described their successful duck rescue operation on Facebook:

Fortunately, there was no foul weather and the drain was not full of water. The crew pretty much had to wing it and closed off any exits in the drain and gathered them in one area and one by one each duckling was plucked out of the water and given to the momma.

(I see what they did there – “had to wing it.” “Foul weather.”)

Another happy duck rescue.

A mother duck watches over employees of an Elyria Target working to rescue her ducklings from a storm drain - credit Rona Proudfoot (CC-BY-SA)
A mother duck keeps watch over a Target duckling rescue that we do not cover in this article: “Momma Duck keeps watch during the duckling rescue effort at the Elyria Target Tuesday” by ronnie44052 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Hindustan Times: “Officer uses mobile to rescue 11 baby ducks from storm drain. Here’s how”

Trisha Sengupta. April 23, 2021.

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Although this article is from an Indian newspaper, the duck rescue in question occurred in Hayward, California.

The article quotes the Hayward Police Department’s Facebook account of the duck family crisis:

A mama duck and her 12 ducklings were walking across Chabot College campus when 11 of the baby ducks fell into a storm drain! The mana duck was quacking loudly after losing them and it raised the attention of a passerby. Chabot College Maintenance and Operations staff came to remove the grate, but the baby ducks scattered deeper into the pipes.

Removing the grate is only part of the battle. Officers must be able to reach the ducklings. Fortunately, Ms. Susan Perez, a Hayward animal control officer, had an ingenious idea. Much like how the Boston Police Department corralled a wayward peacock last year, Ms. Perez played mama duck sounds on her phone to pique the ducklings’ interest. Her plan worked, and she was able to rescue all 11 ducklings and reunite them with their mother.

A job well done.

Patch: “Stuck Duck, Lamb On the Lam, Found Dog: Just Another Day ACO Says”

Ellyn Santiago. May 12, 2021.

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We return to the northeast, specifically to East Haven, Connecticut, for our next duck rescue story.

On the morning of May 11, 2021, an East Haven firefighter was riding his bike when he took note of an unusual sound coming from a catch basin. The source of the sound was an adult duck, whose wings were stuck in the catch basin. The firefighter called animal control, and Mr. Owen Little, a local animal control officer, arrived on the scene – as did several local firefighters.

It turned out that the mother had been trying to rescue her babies, which were trapped in the catch basin. After rescuing the mother duck, Mr. Little worked on rescuing her ducklings, one by one. The mother duck may not have fully understood the good intentions of Mr. Little and the other responders. According to Mr. Little, the mother duck “hovered and dive-bombed” him and the firefighters as they extracted her ducklings from the trap.

Fortunately, Mr. Little rescued all of the ducklings and placed them near a nearby marsh, where they were joined by their mother. The article that I linked to covers Mr. Little’s very busy day at the proverbial office on May 11 – the duck family rescue was only one of his many heroic feats.

Mr. Little was quoted in the article as saying that he has had more duck crisis situations this year than he is accustomed to.

13 ABC: “‘IT’S A TRAP!’: Child’s instincts rescue 8 ducklings from roadside storm drain”

Brent Ashcroft. May 10, 2021.

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Duckling rescues come in all ages and sizes – as we learn in this article about the good deed of an 11-year old Mr. Kaiden Porter, who helped save eight small feathered lives.

Mr. Porter’s mother, Ms. Amanda Opalek, stepped outside her house and saw a mother duck, followed by three ducklings, creating a traffic jam. She noted that the mother duck looked very upset. Mr. Opalek called her son out to help her investigate, and he directed traffic while Ms. Opalek tried to figure out why the mother duck would not budge from the middle of the street.

Ms. Opalek found that she could not convince the mother duck to move, but she could not figure out why. Her son had a suspicion, and he took the initiative to look down a storm-drain in front of his house. Inside, he found eight baby ducklings passing their time sitting in the drain.

The Duckling Rescue

Ms. Opalek, Mr. Porter, and an unnamed passerby were able to access the storm drain and remove three of the eight ducklings. Mr. Porter called the police for assistance in retrieving the remaining five ducklings. Twenty minutes after receiving the call, Grand Haven Police and Fire Department personnel arrived on scene to rescue the ducklings.

Mr. Porter described the ensuing duckling rescue as being a difficult endeavor for the responding officers and firefighters: “The ducklings kept running under the road and appearing in three different drains.” Perhaps unable to handle the stress, the mother duckling, along with her non-stuck ducklings, sat behind Ms. Opalek’s shed.

Fortunately, all the ducklings were rescued after about one hour of chasing them between three storm drains. Once the whole duck family was together, the mother duck and her unstuck ducklings waddled away.

Our young hero was grateful that the stars aligned to allow him to help: “Had my mom not gone outside when she did, saw the ducks, then called for me, there may not have been a happy ending.”

Redbankgreen: “Ducklings Rescued From Sewer”

John T. Ward. May 14, 2021.

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For this story, we follow the excellent on-the-ground reporting of John T. Ward in Red Bank, New Jersey.

A woman by the name of Ms. Robin Kirchberger was returning to work from her lunch break. She noted a mother duck with eight ducklings crossing the road. Ms. Kirchberger helped guide the duck family to the sidewalk. However, the mother duck then turned around and walked back across the street to a sewer grate, where she stood and looked at Ms. Kirchberger.

Ms. Kirchberger explained that her first thought was to try to coax the mother duck out of the street. However, she understood the mother duck’s behavior when she heard chirping coming from the storm drain. Ms. Kirchberger peered below and saw several ducklings in the storm drain.

By this time, the eight ducklings that were not in the storm drain had followed their mother back into the street. Ms. Kirchberger and others in the area herded the duck family back to safety while others gathered around the sewer gate to contemplate a duckling rescue. Meanwhile, the mother duck and ducklings were kept in a makeshift pen composed of a wall on one side, and trash bins and boxes on the other three sides to create a barrier.

A Civilian Duck Rescue

A woman by the name of Ms. Lauren Dezzi, who worked at OceanFirst Bank, arrived on scene with a fish net that she ordinarily used to tend to the bank’s office aquarium. After the people managed to remove the grate, Ms. Dezzi leaned into the storm drain and used her fish net to retrieve the ducklings, one at a time. By the time police and the local animal control officer, Henry Perez, arrived, Ms. Dezzi had already scooped the ducklings from the storm drain and put them in a cardboard box.

Ms. Dezzi explained that this was not her first animal storm drain rescue. About eight years earlier, she had rescued two five-week old kittens from a storm drain in front of her home. She noted that her two pet cats were now eight years old.

After the ducks were rescued, Mr. Perez informed Redbankgreen that the duck family had been relocated to private property some distance away in order to ensure that they would live safely and far away from the dangers of downtown Red Bank. He reported that “Mommy and all 12 ducklings are doing great.”

News 4 Jax: “Family’s duckling rescue story will remind you of all the good in the world”

Michelle Ganley. May 5, 2021.

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On April 11, 2021, Ms. Laurel Reichold of Jacksonville, Florida, went out for a drive on a rainy day with her husband and three sons. During their drive, she spotted a mother duck being followed by her ten ducklings. Ms. Reichold distinctly remembered counting the ducklings and pointing out the duck family to her sons.

Ms. Reichold drove back the same way. She saw the mother duck again. However, this time the mother duck had only three ducklings. Moreover, she was standing near a storm drain. Surely, readers who have read this far can guess the location of the missing seven ducklings. Ms. Reichold had a bad feeling, and she exited the car with her sons. The mother duck was quacking and, sure enough, there were seven ducklings in the storm drain.

This duckling rescue situation was more perilous than the others we have noted. Ms. Reichold recounted that it was raining hard, and she assumed that the ducklings had been swept into the drain by water. Worse yet, the water level in the storm drain was rising. Another good Samaritan also stopped and tried to procure a net to rescue the ducklings, but he was unable to find one.

Into the Storm Drain

Ms. Reichold knew that the ducklings were in danger, so she and her husband wrenched the grate covering the storm drain away. She told her sons to find a large stick nearby so that they could test how deep the water was. After confirming that the water was only waist-deep, Ms. Reichold ventured into the storm drain. As we learned from some of the previous duckling rescue stories, ducklings are not always entirely cooperative with their rescuers. In this case, the ducklings dispersed as soon as Ms. Reichold lowered herself into the storm drain.

Ms. Reichold decided that patience was in order. For about 15 minutes, she stood, calm and motionless, in a wet, cold, and likely unclean storm drain. Eventually, the ducklings returned. Ms. Reichold described her duck-snatching:

I had to snatch them as fast as I could, and they were fast! They had lots of energy. It’s not like they’d been in the water for a few days. These guys had just fallen in. But I got them one or two at a time, and I was able to get them all.

Ms. Reichold and her family ensured that the ducklings walked toward their mother. She recalled that the mother appeared to make sure that all of her ducklings had returned before continuing on her way.

Ms. Reichold stated that she and her family felt “honored” that they had been in the right place at the right time to save the ducklings. She also added that she was happy that her sons were able to see her in a “heroic” role.

Thanks to her quick thinking and willingness to dive into a very unpleasant situation, a relieved mother duck was reunited with seven lost ducklings.

Roll Call: “Roof rescue: Ducklings go from stuck at the library to swimming in the pool”

Lindsey Gilbert. May 5, 2020.

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This article does not cover a specific duckling rescue. Instead, it notes that spring is the season of duck rescues – an association I did not note in my article on the beginning of spring. Ms. Gilbert wrote:

They may strut around like they own the place, but baby ducks can have trouble in the big city. They fall into grates. They get stranded in fountains, and if their mother happens to nest on top of a tall building, lured by the promise of greenery or other amenities, it’s hard for them to get down.

We certainly have had our share of ducklings falling into grates in the articles I covered. Although I did not include any duckling rescues prompted by questionable nesting location choices, I did find that those crises are not uncommon either.

Spring is a time of promise and peril for duck parents and duck children.

The Duckling Rescue Take-Aways

I was not sure what to expect when I began my search for duck rescue articles. I was a bit surprised to find that I could fill an entire Around the Web post with nothing but duck rescue stories from the last month.

The most common duckling danger appears to be falling into storm drains and similar holes. Ducklings are small, after all, and they tend to have little on their mind except following their mother.

Although the duckling danger was similar across our duckling rescue stories, the rescues themselves were unique. We read about police, firefighters, animal control, office workers, children, and ordinary people who took time out of their days to rescue baby ducks from danger and reunite them with their worried mothers. Many of these rescues could have been missed had there not been someone to take note of a panicking mother duck in need of help.

I hope this post inspires all of us to keep our eyes open for feathered friends in need.

Of course, it is good to make sure that the ducking is actually in need. A duckling that fell into a storm drain or hatched on a roof definitely needs a hand. However, as The Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center explained:

Many of the orphaned animals that we get are legitimate orphans who need our help. But with ducklings, a lot of the times they would have been OK except humans who meant well intervened when they didn’t need to, and so they’ve accidentally created a situation where the ducklings need help.

In other words, would-be duck rescuers should exercise discretion before acting, but should always be ready to heed the quack of a mother duck in need. It is not always clear if a “lost bird” is actually lost.

A duck family swimming in a marsh.
A happy duck family where it is supposed to be: “Mallard with Ducklings” by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Midwest Region is marked with CC PDM 1.0