This spring, two dozen volunteers signed up to help with Duck Watch, City Wildlife’s program to protect Mallard ducklings and duck nests throughout the city. We monitor the nests and advise people what to expect after the ducklings hatch. Their mother will lead them to her chosen water source within 48 hours of hatching because that’s where their food is. So it’s important to be sure the ducklings aren’t trapped on a roof or in an enclosed courtyard where they can’t get to water.
We monitored 14 nests and helped numerous other duck families. Many of the nests were in downtown tree squares – right on busy sidewalks. People worry that these ducklings will be hit by cars, but their mothers are surprisingly street-smart. They often lead their ducklings to water after dusk when there is less traffic – and most drivers will stop to watch them anyway!
We also helped many ducklings who were orphaned or stranded. We took in 6 orphaned ducklings from a condominium fountain on Connecticut Avenue where they were trapped because the rim of the fountain was too high for them to get out. Another group of ducklings hatched in a walled private garden. We rescued them because there wouldn’t have been enough food in the garden for them to survive.