June 2, 2010

Make way for ducklings! with photos!

My younger son called me on my way home from work today.  He's 11 and still has that munchkin voice, but he's losing his little-boy lisp.

"Dad.  When will you be home?  We can't get the ducklings out of the pool."


"Yeah, a mom duck and eight ducklings.  They can't get out.  We saw on youtube someone made a ramp from a lawn chair.  We're waiting for you to get home."

Twenty minutes later, I arrived to find, indeed, eight ducklings and one mama duck swimming around in our pool.

First, we grabbed two lengths of old, useless baseboard and lay them into the pool as a narrow ramp.  I had visions of Ping boarding his boat from the Yangtze.

We herded the mama (with her lings in tow) toward the ramp, but the mama kept jumping out next to the ramp and quacking urgently to her brood.  They, of course, eschewed the ramp and tried for the more direct route--jumping out like mama did.  But it was no good.  Even the best of them could only manage a couple of inches out of the water, a good six inches below the lip of the concrete coping.

At the insistent pleas of my younger son, the one who had seen the youtube video, we removed the useless baseboard and slid one end of a lounge chair into the pool.  It made for a much wider ramp, but it's a plastic weave and the ducklings simply hopped through the holes instead of climbing out.  The mom seemed overwrought trying to quack her ducklings into jumping higher.

About this time, the neighbor boy arrived to help.  He noticed that one of the ducklings was no longer swimming with the rest.  He was just floating around, one leg hanging limp.  We don't now how it happened, but we think he maybe broke it getting into, and then out of, the skimmer (where the water gets sucked into the filter).  I used the baseboard (not so useless any more) to lift him up and out of the water and deposit him onto the patio.

Mama duck seemed far less agitated but still unable to extract the rest of her family from the pool.

Finally, I got sick of the failed ramps and went to get an old sheet of beadboard left over from a long-ago bathroom remodel.  I lay the beadboard in the pool upside down, and it made a fair beachhead.  (You can see the lounge chairs in the background.)

Within minutes, mama duck led her kidlets up and out.  The exit wasn't so kind to the little ones, with the top of the ramp three inches off the ground.  One by one they tumbled off the edge onto their heads, popped right back up, and waddled off through the gate behind mama.

Unfortunately, the injured baby could not walk and was left behind.  Maria scooped him up into a box and took him to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, which has an extensive and top-notch wildlife rescue program.  They whisked the duckling into the back room (stat!) and asked for the whole story.  They will fix him up good.  I am imagining him on the gurney with a blood pressure monitor and an IV drip and a team of surgeons just like in Grey's Anatomy.  Here's the little guy on his way to the hospital, sitting on a dish towel.

When mama got her babies out, she hightailed it out of our yard and across the street.  The seven mobile kids seemed not one bit upset about leaving the wounded behind, and the little injured one seemed to take a philosophical approach to the whole affair.  We have no idea where the family skedaddled off to.  They went into another yard, under a fence.  They're probably stuck in another neighbor's pool as I write this.


Nathan Bransford said...

Amazing photos!! Wow, glad all ducklings made it.

PJD said...

Thanks, Nathan! The two grainy photos were taken by me on my blackberry. All the good ones were taken by the 11-year-old.

fairyhedgehog said...

Oh wow! What a huge amount of effort it took to get them out.

I'm glad you were able to rescue the injured one. Isn't it odd how they didn't seem bothered at leaving him behind?

PJD said...

The mom did stand next to it a couple of times, silently and as if she were just admiring the view from there. The whole ordeal took about a half hour. I'd thought of the beadboard ramp at first, but I didn't feel like carrying it out back. Should have listened to my first instinct!

Maria Dudley said...

Great blog post! I was there, but I still loved reading your description of it.

McKoala said...

Duckies! Gorgeous. Glad the injured one will also be OK.

Tiffany said...

Great story! I love how your kids say they are waiting for you to get home (to save the day!) - you're a hero!

Tully said...

We have exactly the same thing happened to us this year!