Make Way for Ducklings!

I am so grateful for the W.I.S.E. science class units where we studied birds. It has made us much more aware of the presence of birds in the world around us.

On our way back from the W.I.S.E. field trip to the aquarium last Friday (we’re studying sharks this term), we spotted a bald eagle, wheeling above the Interstate median. And then yesterday we saw a mother duck and her five or six babies (again, Interstate driving, so we didn’t exactly have the chance to take a good look).

This plucky mama was walking along the inner shoulder on her way to the river, her little ones following, while cars whizzed by at 40-50 mph only a few feet away. How in the world did they get to the inner shoulder, anyhow, without crossing three busy lanes? The girls hypothesized that she was a wood duck and had laid her eggs on a ledge under a  freeway overpass, perhaps.

We called it in as a traffic hazard. Can’t you just see someone slamming on their brakes and a line of cars behind them piling into each other?

We didn’t hear anything on the news, later, so hopefully Mama Duck got her brood safely to the river. I have no idea how, as the Interstate Bridge is so high above the river that people wanting to take their own lives jump off that bridge. However, in our studies of wood ducks a few months ago, we found out that the babies jump out of the nest to the ground within a day of hatching.

According to the All About Birds website, they can fall as much as 290 feet without injury! This is with little, stubby, down-covered wings, not the sort of thing a bird uses to fly!

So maybe they were able to jump off the high bridge into the river without any problems, after all. I hope so. They were awfully cute.

Wish I could post a photo of the mama and her babies making their way along the freeway shoulder but… we were one of those cars whizzing by at 40 mph in building rush-hour traffic…

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