Original article posted June 4, 2016 in the Toledo Blade - Jon Victor
Typically, mallard ducks choose their nesting spots wisely, careful to ensure that their eggs are safely out of predators’ reach.
But a local mallard recently took caution to the extreme, laying nine eggs on the roof of the Commodore Perry apartment building in downtown Toledo.
For more than a month, Emily Robertson and John Anning have shared the balcony of their penthouse apartment with the adult duck using the space to incubate its unhatched young.
“It’s a nice setup, had she been able to think one step further,” said Nicole Frederick, a volunteer coordinator for Nature’s Nursery, a nonprofit organization based in Whitehouse that provides medical care to wild animals and was called in to assist.
Ms. Robertson and Mr. Anning were concerned that they would be out of town on a trip to Scotland once the eggs hatched.
If the couple were out of town, the ducklings would be stranded on the enclosed balcony without food, or could fall to their deaths from the building once they began learning to fly.
The couple consulted with Nature’s Nursery officials, who told them to wait until the eggs hatched before calling them to remove the ducks — a potentially lethal proposition.
But on Friday morning, eight tiny mallards emerged from the eggs.
“I saw two little heads, and then it just kept going from there,” Ms. Robertson said.
At Nature’s Nursery’s suggestion, Mr. Anning prepared a tray of water for the baby ducks and their mother, whom he calls “Mrs. D.”
This is not the first time Ms. Robertson and Mr. Anning have had wildlife taking up residence on the roof of their building. Peregrine falcons used to nest on top of the Commodore Perry. They stopped coming back two years ago, Mr. Anning said.
One egg remained unhatched when workers from Nature’s Nursery arrived at 3:30 p.m. to rescue the ducklings by luring them into kennels for transportation.
Laura Zitzelberger, operations director for Nature’s Nursery, said she would take the last egg with her in case it hatched later.
The delay in the organization’s arrival may have complicated the rescue, though. When the mother duck sensed the workers closing in on her with a net, she took off, keeping her distance by perching on nearby ledges.
“If you can get them right when the babies have all hatched, Mom sits very tight with them,” Ms. Zitzelberger said. “She’s less likely to take off and fly when they’re all real vulnerable.”
The workers from Nature’s Nursery did not want to separate the mother from her babies, but at the end of the day, the duck had still eluded capture. So they left around 5 p.m. without any of the birds they had gone to save.
Ms. Robertson said she would call again today for another attempt at the rescue.
Once the animal caretakers have the ducks safely in kennels, they will find a suitable site and release them back into the wild.
Because the concrete walls of the balcony prevented the newborn ducklings from waddling off the edge, Ms. Zitzelberger said the stakes in this rescue were not as high as in previous ones she has conducted.
“When it was on top of the library, it was much more nerve-racking,” she said.