Jeff Corwin, Move Over

We at languageandgrammar.com took a brief respite from saving our readers from language pitfalls–just long enough to save nine ducklings in what could only be called a “daring rescue.” Ok, so it wasn’t that daring, but it was a rescue nonetheless.

On a drive back to the languageandgrammar.com headquarters, we were forced to stop on an entrance ramp to a relatively busy suburban road to wait for a mother duck and her 10 fluffy, waddling ducklings to finish crossing the street. We patiently waited for “mom” to hop onto the curb and move into the grass and for all of the ducklings to be safely by the curb before continuing, and as we were driving away and talking about how cute the baby ducks were (and how fortunate they were to have made it across the road), Sherry noticed that while mom and the first duckling had made it onto the curb, the second duckling was having trouble making it over–and none of the others seemed to be trying.

We didn’t want the ducklings to be separated from their mother–or, more important, be the victims of a hit-and-run driver–but there was no place to pull over or turn around. We needed to go back to make sure that they were ok, though, and it took us nearly 10 minutes to drive back to the same spot, only to find that the nine ducklings were still huddled in the street along the curb while the mother and the first duckling were across the field–away from view because of a slight hill.

We jumped into action as quickly as we would have if we had seen a dangling participle, parking illegally along the side of the entrance ramp and jogging to the ducklings that were slowly moving, en masse, on a path parallel to the curb–farther away from the mother, who was visibly looking for the ducklings but not able to see them.

We lifted the ducklings over the curb one at a time, with their little wings flapping and their barely audible chirps of protest, and placed them in the grass, thinking that the mother duck would see them and return to her frightened brood, but it was not to be. The duck and the ducklings were only 50 to 75 feet apart, but with the hill between them, they might as well have been a million miles apart.

While Sherry had some luck shooing the ducklings in the general direction of the mother, it was a slow process, and the mother continued on her path forward, moving at the same speed while looking around for the ducklings from time to time. I tried to shoo the mother back toward the ducklings, but I was afraid that she would become frightened and fly away.

The best idea seemed to be to move the ducklings closer to the mother, so I took off my coat, and we gently placed them inside, where they seemed to be very cozy and happy, and carried them to the top of the little hill. As we placed the coat on the ground and the ducklings started to hop out one by one, one of them chirped loudly enough for the mother to hear. She quacked back, and within a couple of minutes, the family was reunited. The mother seemed to take a head count (perhaps she should have thought of that a little earlier!), and the happy family waddled away.

Jeff Corwin, move over.

–Paul

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