BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) -- The journey from downtown Burlington to Lake Champlain was fraught with peril for a duck and her 13 ducklings - but a group effort by concerned citizens saved the day.
A mama mallard and her 13 ducklings were strolling from downtown to the bay one afternoon last week when several little ones fell through the slits of a storm drain, plopping into a pool of water formed by the day's thunderstorms.
"They were peeping away and the mother was quacking back," said Kyle Church, a computer technician who was one of the first people at the scene.
The mother circled the drain frantically, becoming increasingly upset when the remaining birds that followed her footsteps fell through the opening.
Church sprang into action as he and co-worker John Greenia ripped off the sewer grate. Greenia climbed into the storm drain and fished out as many ducklings as he could.
But some started swimming toward the lake and were out of reach. Mother duck listened and followed their peeps right to the next sewer grate, which more of her babies once again fell through.
It was time to call the authorities.
Jodi Harvey, animal control officer with the Burlington police, arrived to find a crowd around the quacking and peeping birds.
"I figured, 'God, what am I going to do?'" she said. "I couldn't leave them here. I scooped the babies up first. I had to hold up traffic."
Onlooker Krista Lothrop handed Harvey a cardboard box, and Harvey put the ducks inside. The ducks then got a lift to the lake in a police cruiser and calmly swam away.
UPDATE: A new source for these photos has been located and believed authentic - Note: the website address on the photos below have been cropped off and there are additional photos on the new site too. See link below these pics...
Background story attributed to the Photographer:
"story: i was driving home (i was actually inside the gate of my complex) when i saw the ducks. i thought it was cute, so parked near by and took some pics. then the mom duck starts walking, with all the little chicks following, right over that grate. all but one fell through (as you can see). it went down to a sewer connection without any water, maybe a 3 foot drop. so i got out of my car and pulled the grate off and went down there to try to get the chicks. when i pulled the grate off, dirt fell down there and scared them and they scattered. but, i was able to get all but one back up top. the last one wouldn't move, and i wasn't gonna go down the sewer pipe much more without a flashlight. hopefully that chick will find it's way back."
See the original photos and additional pics at the
- thanks to L. Allen for solving this mystery! :)
Note: Some photos may be edited or enhanced for publication