On ducklings and merry-go-rounds

6 May

Today I bring you a short tale about a young Plank North family, a bully, and resilience.

The central characters of our story are Mama and Papa Duck. For at least ten years now, these two mallards (we assume they’re the same two) have been returning every spring to Plank North Elementary School to build their nest.

They usually choose a different location on the school grounds every year to settle down. Twice they’ve nested near the second grade classrooms on the west side of the building, once under the pear tree by the receiving doors, and once in front of the office window. One year they even made their nest on the school’s roof, which became obvious when staff members saw the ducklings jumping off the roof one day.

Second grade teacher Sheila O’Hanlon has kind of become the ducks’ overseer, keeping an eye out for them every year, and making sure everyone knows where they are so students don’t get too near the nest and spook Mama and Papa.

“It’s always about this time of year” that the ducks return, Sheila said. “The eggs take about 28 days to mature, and they usually stay for a few days until the babies are big enough to waddle off. We think they head down Scribner to a little pond by the side of the road.”

Sure enough, about three weeks ago, Mama and Papa Duck returned, this time tucking their nest under the merry-go-round on one of the school’s playgrounds. As soon as the new nest was discovered, staff members put up signs and yellow warning tape to keep kids away.

For a couple of weeks, Mama could be seen every day sitting on her nest, protecting what we all suspected was a clutch of eggs.

Then, one day, a fox was spotted on the school grounds. Not long after that, Mama and Papa Duck were gone and the nest was empty.

For a while the ducks were nowhere to be seen. But recently, we saw Mama and Papa again, exploring the school grounds. The nest is still empty, but at least the young parents are still around. We all hope they’ve made another nest somewhere, better hidden from Mr. Fox. Maybe it’s down by that little pond.

In any case, we fully expect these resilient young parents to return again next year to raise an adorable family of fluffy ducklings. Perhaps they should go back to the roof…..

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