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The Great Duckling Relocation - July 11, 2006

I was sitting at my desk earlier today when Christi sent me an instant message asking if I had my camera, because Forrest and Patty had seen a mother duck and her ducklings walking across a grassy area near the building. I had my little camera with me so I grabbed it and headed out. It took me a bit to find them as they'd moved out of the grassy area and were heading across a parking lot toward the 520 freeway.

I caught up with them and realized I couldn't just take pictures of them, because if they continued the way they were going they'd surely get run over.

First I herded them back to a little park area near our building, and they ate some grass and played in a little puddle that the sprinklers had made, but every time I went to walk away, they started heading back to the parking lot and the freeway.

I called corporate security, who said they couldn't do anything but call the humane society, so I called the humane society who said it was not their area, but I should call animal control. I called animal control and they said it didn't fall in their area, but I should call fish and wildlife. I called fish and wildlife and they said that ducks find odd places to have their babies and there wasn't anything they could do to help. So I called corporate security again to ask if maybe they could provide some creative support. No luck, but they gave me the number of a place called critter rescue. I thought I had it made, but surprisingly enough critter rescue would not rescue my critters. They gave me the number of PAWS, and considering how much I donate to them every year I figured this would do the trick. Unfortunately PAWS would only help if the animals were injured, and I could hardly justify injuring one of the ducks just to get help.

My first thought was to get someone to take my job of periodically herding them back toward the center of the park, while I ran to a local hardware store and bought a bunch of small gauge chicken wire to build an enclosure for them to live in until they were big enough. A few seconds later I realized that was silly (most people would have known that immediately), but maybe I could catch them in a box and take them to lake Marymoor park (my preferred animal relocation area, just ask the rats and mice in the briar patch).

Now that I had a plan, I used my phone to send text messages to Christi in her meeting to round me up some help. A few minutes later Christi, Nate, and Forrest showed up, then Lenny and Ryan with two cardboard boxes and some foamcore posters to use as herding devices (we figured touching the ducklings might cause the mother to abandon them). Another employee named Cassie chipped in and helped out as well.

My idea of herding the whole group into a cardboard box (even with the end cleverly opened to work like a amphibious landing boat) soon proved to be impossible as the mother duck would stick with them right up until the time we got close enough to get her in the box. Luckily a guy walked up to us who said he'd done this before and it is only necessary to get the ducklings in a box and then the mom would follow anywhere you walked. He also had the critical information that there was a nice pond in an apartment complex just up the road. I don't know what the guy's name was, but he ran up ahead and scouted out the pond and then came back and met us part way to guide us in.

Here are some pictures of the ducklings and our "Great Duckling Relocation" project.


An Aerial View of the Journey

We started at 1, took a brief rest at 2, did all of the phone calls and playing in the puddle at 3, and then took the long exodus to the pond which is located at 4

First Meeting

This was our first meeting when I found her in the parking lot

Rest Break

After herding her across the parking lot we rested for a few minutes before crossing a driveway to the little park area by our building

More Resting

Another cute resting shot

Big Yawn

A big yawn from a little duck

Safe, kind of

Safe in the little park by our building, but unfortunately every time I went to leave, she did too

Puddle Play

They had fun playing in a little puddle made by the sprinklers

Nap Time

While I made calls and tried to come up with a relocation plan, they fell asleep next to me on the grass

Duckling Talking

The little pink mouth on this duckling is adorable

Still Waiting

It took a long time to call all possible agencies so they waited patiently


Forrest, Lenny, and I trying to wrangle them into the cardboard box

Still Chasing Them

They were remarkable tough to catch, since you didn't want to scare them that much, and couldn't touch them

Fast Break

Mom and babies make a run for it

The Long Trek

Nate is up by the light to get us a crosswalk, I'm in front with the box of ducklings, mother duck is following behind, with Ryan, and Cassie trailing behind.

Waiting Mom

Mom's in the pond waiting for the release

The Release

I'm letting them out of the box into the water. Seriously, is that what the top of my head looks like?!? I need to call hair club!


They head out into the pond to mom

New Neighbors

Local ducks come to see the new family


Packing up the box in the foreground, while mother and babies swim happily in the background

Happy Ducks!

A happy family once again