Nathaniel Peters of Seattle, Washington, is known around the Ballard neighborhood as the “bird man with a plan.”
When he moved into his apartment, he didn’t realize the perks included watching adorable ducklings grow up. About twice a year, a mallard duck lays and hatches her eggs on his neighbor’s porch. The only problem is they’re on the second floor, which means the ducklings can’t get to the ground safely on their own. Luckily for them, they have a human escort!
The first time Nathaniel noticed a mother and her ducklings, he got in touch with a local animal rescue to find out what he should do. They suggested he lower the babies in a basket, so he did just that!
In the four years since then, these duckling interventions have become a biannual tradition that Nathaniel calls the “Ballard Mallard Duckling Drop.” He has guided duck families from the second floor to nearby Salmon Bay seven times now, with the most recent occurrence taking place on June 14.
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“Each time a brood hatches, we wait till all the ducklings have hatched and are active, check the nest to make sure there are no eggs still developing, and then collect the ducklings in our Operation Duckling Drop ‘elevator,'” he explained. “We lower them to the street, make sure everyone is ready, and then escort the family to the water.”
Once every little one is on the ground, Nathaniel, his partner, and his neighbor herd them half a mile through the city streets to the waterfront. Of course, they always make sure no one is left behind!
The mallard mama, which Nathaniel believes is always the same, hatches her first brood in April and her second in June.
This month, she welcomed eight ducklings! One of them was smaller and slower than the rest, but little “Scrappy” didn’t give up.
“It would stop and we would have to wait, but the little one made it all the way,” Nathaniel told My Ballard. “At the end the mother circled back to Scrappy in the water when it finally caught up. It was amazing.”
Thanks to this caring team, the mama and her babies always reach the water safely!
“We believe that this is what good neighbors are supposed to do,” Nathaniel wrote. “We look out for each other. We help each other when help is needed. We support each other when we fall down or fall behind.”
If the same duck really is returning year after year, we can see why! With Nathaniel always looking out for her, she must know her babies will be in good hands. You can watch the entire journey from his second-floor balcony to the canal here.
Check out Nathaniel’s April rescue mission in the video below, and share this sweet story today.
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