A couple of weeks ago we were headed out of our neighborhood to go cruising. Yeah, cruising because that’s what middle-aged suburbanites do on Friday nights. When all of a sudden I said, “Oh, oh, oh, stop the car!” A mother duck was also out cruising with her whole brood following across four lanes of traffic from a hotel into the mall parking lot. Even though the speed limit is only 35mph, and the cops patrol this stretch of road pretty heavily, it is a treacherous pass.
I had my camera with me. I slung the strap over my head, got out of the vehicle and stepped into oncoming traffic, hoping to prevent a mother/duckling road kill situation. After all, drivers would certainly see me and stop, right? Some did, some did not.
“Go mama, go mama, go,” I encouraged the determined mother and we made it across.
“Now what? Where am I going?” She was formulating a plan. She seemed confused, from my human point of view, because she was traveling away from any water source that I knew of and was making her way across dangerous territory; taking her babies right along with her. Drivers dart in and out of parking spaces, too busy texting or trying to find a spot closer to the food court to pay attention to humans crossing, much less tiny ducks. I didn’t want them to get crushed under a Kia, unnoticed by the driver trying to get to Bed Bath & Beyond for the Mother’s Day Sale. What a sad way to die.
Another car stopped just then and a young woman got out. Her name was Rachel. She and her mother were having a girl’s night out. They’d just moved to town. Rachel, it turns out, loves animals. Her proud mother told me Rachel will be working this summer at the zoo as a youth volunteer. Rachel seemed excited about the opportunity and she beamed as her mother explained the program to me during the episode of suburban wild kingdom.
Rachel’s mother called animal control, but was told they wouldn’t come. “The ducks are locals, they’ll find their way. They do this all the time,” said the voice of the person NOT going to bother about some ducks at the mall on a Friday night. We don’t have any “ducks crossing” signs around here. I’ve never seen a mama duck with a brood behind her trying to traverse four lanes of big ass SUVs on this road that I travel almost daily.
I am not a “Save the Snails” kind of person, but I found myself embarrassed about our lame local agency’s lack of responsiveness. I guess animal control only comes out for big game, like mountain lions recently reported in the area.
Several other people stopped to watch Duck Aide 2012 while Rachel, her mother and I, like some kind of crazy bird wranglers, tried to guide the mama duck to the median, back across four lanes of traffic and into the brush. All’s well that ends well. The mama and her ducklings made it to safety and are probably getting ready for a big Mother’s Day celebration this weekend. That is if the mountain lions didn’t get ‘em.