Couple respond to frantic mother duck's pleas for help
Ran into a mother duck frantically looking for her chicks in front of a building in Baltimore inner harbor. I was with my wife and we could hear the chicks but couldn’t see them. The mother duck was clearly distraught pacing back and forth. I offered her some food when I first saw her, but when she wasn’t interested in eating at all that’s when we realized something was wrong.
Another passer by noticed the same thing and wished us luck helping. Most people just looked at the mother duck pacing around frantically and making noise, not knowing what to make of the strange behavior. Some people would walk by and laugh at the duck because she was acting so funny.
My wife and I looked around for a while, thinking maybe the ducklings were in the sewer below or had somehow entered the building under the main door.
There were some stairs going up to a deck on the second floor behind a locked gate with a no trespassing sign. My wife and I walked around the building looking for someone who worked there, but it was Saturday, and no one was around. When we walked around the building it became clear that the sound of the ducklings was coming from the second floor.
I decided to jump the gate to see if I could find the ducklings on the 2nd story. Luckily, they were right there when I went up the steps. They were all huddle together in a pack to stay warm and they were all chirping calling for their mother.
I found a large plastic container and tried herding them into it, but they kept jumping out and running away. It took three trips to get them all down the stairs to their mom. My wife helped from below.
By the time I got the third and final round of duckling in the plastic container, mama duck had already left for the water with the other chicks leaving the final round behind. My wife had to take them down to the water herself.
While my wife was walking the third round of ducks to the water a security guard showed up and asked what I was doing. Once I told him about the ducklings, he was very nice and told me they had been expecting them last week.
In a strange twist of events, once all the ducklings were united with momma duck and swimming together a group of male ducks, called drakes, surrounded the mother and separated her from the ducklings.
It looked as if the drakes were attacking her, violently jumping on top of her, biting at the back of her neck, and pushing her head underwater. Later, I looked it up online and it turns out that this is normal mating behavior!
People watching from the dock were screaming and trying to help, but the water was too low to reach the ducks. One guy said “I wish a had a brick to throw at the ducks so they would leave the mother alone”. One lady even swung her purse at the ducks to try to get them to go away. This happened just out of the frame but you can hear the splash when her purse hit the water.
Finally, after the ducks mounted the mother, they let her be with her ducklings.
Afterwards, the security guard told us that the same thing happened last year when the mother couldn’t find the ducklings after they hatched on the second floor. He said the duckling were lucky we were there to help them get down and unite with their mother since nobody was around over the weekend.