Mama Duck Leads Day-Old Ducklings from Medstar Harbor Hospital to Patapsco River

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It’s so flapping sweet. They were born last Saturday, 10 fuzzy baby mallards, in the quiet refuge of the MedStar Harbor Hospital fountain enclosure. Hospital staff had been totally supportive and invested in the mother duck’s preceding nesting process, especially Mr. Bob Decker, the man in charge of facilities for the hospital, who’s now nicknamed Bob Ducker, incidentally… Following Decker’s compassionate lead, MedStar staff secured the courtyard location from trespass and provided food and water to honor the baby birdlings’ arrival.

Said arrival would bring big new maintenance challenges because ducklings can’t yet fly away home!

The mama mallard had hatched a partially practical plan: Find a quiet and secure spot to birth her decuplets successfully, check and check. Daddy mallard was able to fly in and out quite easily for moral — or rather, mallard — support. Mom could relax while she waited for the big day, she reasoned, then spend easy, intruder-free time with her kiddos. The only major snag, at least according to hospital-employed human being logic: Once her teeny crew arrived, according to wildlife data, they weren’t going to be ready, willing, and able to leave the enclosed hospital patio until they learned to fly 50 days later. Luckily (aren’t you glad I didn’t say luckily duckily), Ducker, er, Decker thought fast; he almost seemed to speak the ducks’ quacking language.

After hours Sunday night, only one day after the hatching, “Bob Decker led [the duck family] through the door, down the hall, through the main lobby of the hospital, and out the front door,” says Debra Schindler, MedStar spokesperson. “The mom followed him out. Maybe instinctually she knew. Bob had been there every day.”

Schindler says she was surprised the mission flew so smoothly. Fortunately for ducks, the hospital is right on the water of the Patapsco River.

“It looked like an Easter card the way she nested on a bed of pansies,” adds Schindler of the mama duck’s hatching phase.

If you’re peckish for more super-cute information, here’s some lovable talk from the MedStar press release:

Each year, approximately 1,600 babies are welcomed into the world at MedStar Harbor Hospital. Moms and families know that we take special care of our tiniest patients and their mommies. Clearly, Mrs. Mallard recognized that, and found a safe, protected haven.  Her nest was off the ground, free of predators, and she was able to incubate her 10 eggs in a stress-free environment.  If beautiful surroundings were important to her, she had that too. 

By the way, the ducks were named after the 10 MedStar Health hospitals:  Harby, (MedStar Harbor) Sam, (MedStar Good Samaritan)  Unnie, (MedStar Union Memorial)  Franklin, (MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center) George, (MedStar Georgetown) Rehabitha,  (MedStar National Rehab Hospital) Washington, (MedStar Washington Hospital Center)   Mary, (MedStar St. Mary’s)   Newbie,  (our newest hospital, Southern Maryland)  Monty (MedStar Montgomery Medical)  and Star, (MedStar Health).



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