Something wonderful recently happened in downtown Edmonton, Alberta.
Michael R. is an accounting clerk at a bank and works in a second story office. Several weeks ago, he watched a mother duck choose the concrete awning outside his window as the unlikely place to build a nest above the sidewalk. The mallard laid ten eggs in a nest in the corner of the planter that is perched over 10 feet in the air above the sidewalk below.
Mommy duck dutifully kept the eggs warm for weeks, and Monday afternoon all of her ten ducklings hatched.
With ducks, typically mom will bring her babies to water in the first 48 hours after hatching. Michael worried all night how the mommy duck was going to get her little babies safely off their perch in a busy, downtown, urban environment to take them to water.
Tuesday morning, Michael watched the mother duck encourage her babies to the edge of the perch with the intent to show them how to jump off.
Office work came to a standstill as everyone gathered to watch.
The mother flew down below and started quacking to her babies above. In disbelief Michael watched as the first fuzzy newborn trustingly toddled to the edge and astonishingly leapt into thin air, crashing onto the cement below.
Michael couldn’t stand to watch this risky effort nine more times! He dashed out of his office and ran down the stairs to the sidewalk where the first obedient duckling, near its mother, was resting in a stupor after the near-fatal fall. Michael stood out of sight under the awning-planter, ready to help.
As the second baby took the plunge, Michael jumped forward and caught it with his bare hands before it hit the concrete. Safe and sound, he set it down by its mommy and the other stunned sibling, still recovering from that painful leap. (The mother must have sensed that Michael was trying to help her babies.)
One by one the babies continued to jump. Each time Michael hid under the awning just to reach out in the nick of time as the duckling made its free fall. At the scene, the busy downtown sidewalk traffic came to a standstill. Time after time, Michael was able to catch the remaining eight little ducklings and set them by their approving mother.
At this point Michael realized the duck family had only made part of its dangerous journey. They had two full blocks to walk across traffic, crosswalks, curbs and past pedestrians to get to the closest open water, the River, site of the famed “River Walk.”
The onlooking office secretaries and several Edmonton police officers joined in. An empty copy-paper box was brought to collect the babies. They carefully corralled them, with the mother’s approval, and loaded them in the container. Michael held the box low enough for the mom to see her brood. He then slowly navigated through the downtown streets toward the River, with mommy waddling behind, keeping her babies in sight, all the way.
As they reached the river, the mother took over. She quickly ran passed Michael, jumped in the river and quacked loudly.
At the water’s edge, Michael tipped the box and helped shepherd the babies toward the water and to the waiting mother.
All ten darling ducklings safely made it into the water, paddled up and snuggled next to mommy. The mother duck swam in circles, looking back toward the beaming bank bookkeeper, and quacked in gratitude.
Michael R. is my hero!
A big h/t to beloved fellow Joseph!