Ducks In Washington Looks
Forward to More Adventures
July, 2010 — To the mother duck, positioning her nest 15 feet above street level must have seemed like an ideal way of protecting her brood from predators.
A mallard duck nests on a ledge beneath the corporate offices of Sterling Savings Bank in Spokane. There has been a nesting duck in the same place for at least three years. The only problem is how to get the ducklings back to the (very hard) ground and on to water in one piece once they were hatched.
Enter Joel Armstrong, a bank official also known as 'Duck Man' for his ability for catching ducklings as they leap from a 15 foot high nest outside his office — in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Photo on right shows two more ducklings making the big leap.
Saved from injury and possible death, the ducklings were placed on the ground next to mum and then guided by Mr. Armstrong the quarter of a mile through busy traffic to the nearest river.
The ducklings' remarkable journey of survival was captured by a Sunday Telegraph photographer, who followed their progress from the nest to their first swim in the water. The series of photographs show the ducklings, still unable to fly, tumbling from a building ledge and being caught by Mr. Armstrong before they hit the concrete.
Joel Armstrong and others block the traffic and encourage the ducks across a busy intersection.
As crowds gather, they walk along the pavement, cross three roads and then jump into the water. Mother duck leads her ducklings the final few yards to the Spokane River. (Photo on right).
Mother duck laid her eggs in the middle of June in a nest overlooked by Mr. Armstrong from his office window. Each day, Mr. Armstrong would go to work at Sterling Savings bank in the American town of Spokane in Washington State and wait patiently for the eggs to hatch.
"Once the last one hatches, I know I have about 24 hours before it's time for them to leave the nest," explained Mr. Armstrong, 44. "When mother duck starts looking down, I run out of the office and wait for the ducklings to jump.
"The mother jumps first, quacks at the ducklings above and they follow. The tricky part this time was when two jumped at pretty much the same time. Luckily I am ambidextrous and I caught one in one hand and one in the other."
With skills an England goalkeeper could only dream of, he caught all 5 ducklings in quick succession as they tumbled from their nest high above the concrete pavement. Mr. Armstrong, a father-of-two who admits to better than average hand-eye co-ordination, has had practice at duckling-catching, having performed his heroics twice before in 2008 and again in 2009.
He's not sure if it's the same duck laying eggs each time, admitting: "They all look the same." To date he has caught 26 ducklings in three years. And no, he hasn't dropped one yet.
In his disbelief Joel watched as the first fuzzy newborn toddled to the edge and astonishingly leapt into thin air, crashing onto the cement below. My brother couldn't watch how this might play out. He dashed out of his office and ran down the stairs to the sidewalk where the first obedient duckling was stuporing near its mother from the near fatal fall.
With Parade Of Their Own
For a brief moment, it must have been a duck mother’s worst nightmare. She was separated from the 12 children she had just welcomed into the world.
In an effort to locate the mama duck, Armstrong went back to the bank. The mallard soon arrived, but she would not have anything to do with her ducklings until they were dumped out of the box.