Every year a stupid duck decides to lay her eggs outside my workplace. This would be fine if she weren't laying them in a ten-foot-high concrete planter that the ducklings can't climb out of; safe from predators, yes, but a deathtrap for tiny things that have yet to learn to fly.
In the past, many of the ducklings have either died in the planter or managed to escape only after the mother had given up, becoming dinner for local crows and cats. Their pitiful peeping cries were a terrible thing to hear. I couldn't stand it anymore.
So 2007 saw the inauguration of the first annual Great Duckling Rescue.
The problem with the GDR is that the planter is full of thick evergreen shrubs that have been growing for eight years; now they're an impenetrable, spiky mess. Under this the ducklings run hither and yon while myself and a brave volunteer get sliced to bits by evergreen thorns, trying to simultaneously hold the rigid stems away from the ground and catch tiny little things that run away at 30kph. In 2007 we also dealt with a dive-bombing mama duck, though this year she stood politely aside while we did our rescue operation.
Apparently we saved fifteen ducklings this year. Before you say "wow, that's a lot of eggs!" let me point out that two more babies died instantly upon hatching, and another two eggs just never hatched at all (I guess my cubicle wasn't a very good incubator).
Some of my fellow employees think I'm crazy; their objections range from "survival of the fittest" (are we preserving a "stupid nesting behaviour gene" in the duck population?) to "nature is cruel" (yes, I know). Sorry, I can't just sit there and listen to animals die.
The day wasn't all downy sweetness, however; when I first climbed into the planter I think I stepped on a slow duckling and broke its neck. It was alive for far too long as we rescued its brothers and sisters...I won't go into details because it was pretty awful. But the rest of the birds seemed pretty happy, and when the mother walked away she was literally floating on a hovercraft of little bustling animals.
How she's going to PROVIDE for that brood is another matter.