Earlier today I was sitting in a patch of shade, writing a short story. While I was contemplating moving inside (to air-conditioned comfort) my roommate Benny appeared at the back door and shouted for me to grab my camera. I jumped up and ran through the kitchen where I exchanged my laptop for the Canon T2i that was sitting on the counter. I hurried out the front door onto our tree-lined street. To my left, down the block was a motorcycle officer in the intersection. I rushed after Benny Mallette, nervous with anticipation… camera strap flapping behind me.
My concern evaporated into the muggy afternoon when he turned to announce,
“It’s the cutest thing you’ll ever see”.
I reached the corner as Donald deChamplain, an accountant from Saint Julie, herded a mother and 7 ducklings safely across the sizzling hot pavement while Carlos, a police escort ensured that oncoming traffic stayed at a distance.
Donald and officer Carlos had escorted the mother and her babies since they were originally spotted on Rue Viau and Rue Hochelaga. Donald tucked his laptop under his arm and hastily rescheduled the client he’d stood-up for duck traffic duty.
Once the birds were safely on the sidewalk, Donald and Carlos invited us to aid in capturing the mother and her charges. My other roommate, Joanne Taillon, ran back to the house to get her cat transporter cage. We huddled around the chicks to strategize as they cooled off in the shade of a garden.
We placed the cage down gently in front of the wayward mallards hoping they would voluntarily enter the refuge. They did not. We attempted to herd them into the cage… total chaos ensued. The mother flapped her wings and sounded the alarm. The chicks scattered faster than cock roaches at night with the light flicked on. Two neighbors came forward and helped to corral the birds. One of them caught the mother and managed to get her into the cage. We thought it would be easy to capture the ducklings.
We figured the babies would follow their mother into the cage… they did not.
They became even more elusive, as if they had been given an order to create a diversion. Chicks were peeping and chirping as they scooted inches from our grasp. Several exhausting (and traumatizing) minutes later, the last of the seven chicks was secured in the cage.
Now they were in the cage, where should we take them?
Since there was no longer any threat of injury or danger, Officer Carlos bid us adieu. After a brief discussion of possibilities for relocation Benny, Donald and I set off in search of water for our captors. We were close to the river (too polluted) but opted to drive across town to Parc Lafontaine where we thought the ducks would have a better chance at survival.
The momma quacked and honked but eventually calmed to a quiet soothing sound as we drove through the city. We passed Parc Maisonneuve but were told that no water was there to accommodate ducks. I sat in the backseat of Benny’s car as we drove. The cage was balanced upon my knee and I did my best to keep the ride as smooth as possible. It was a relief when the birds settled and began to preen themselves. (In all the commotion they had soiled the cage) The chicks huddled close to each other and momma.
I was worried that they may have been dehydrated due to their long journey across busy streets on sizzling pavement. It seemed an eternity until we arrived at the parc. Benny, Donald and I rushed toward the waters edge in anticipation of the release. A small group of onlookers watched with curiosity as we placed the cage at the shore. We kept it shut momentarily as a dog-walker stopped to put a leash on his Jack Russell Terrier. When the coast was clear… Donald swung the door open and the ducks scrambled to the water.
We hugged and kissed each other while tears streamed down our cheeks. What a great feeling to watch as they swam happily away. Thanks to everyone who helped with this important mission.