Duckling rescue, part two

I haven’t posted much today as I’ve spent much of the day with co-duck-tender Dr. Anna Mueller, going to Home Depot to buy bricks and then putting them in the Duck Ring of Death. This morning I discovered that, as I’d feared, one duckling got trapped in the “duck island” last night, couldn’t jump out over the high lip, and died of exhaustion or drowning (picture below fold if you want to see). Physical Plant couldn’t do anything today, so we decided to put a ramp in the island so that wouldn’t happen again, and fill it up with bricks to allow egress as well as a place to rest. To do that, I had to carry heavy bricks in very cold water up to my thighs. But I’d do that for Honey and her brood of nine. I’m very sad that she’s lost one of her babies.

Here are some photos of our modifications of the duck ring, which, as I’ll relate below, will be turned into a lovely resting place tomorrow. All photos are by Anna Mueller.

Putting bricks of various sizes in the Duck Island of Death:

That water was cold, and the pond is uneven and muddy; it’s tricky walking with heavy bricks:

After a while, a nice guy from Physical Plant came over, and despite my telling him he didn’t need to get into the water, he did—with his uniform on! He brought a small bucket of bricks with which we filled in the ring, and a long piece of stone that served as a ramp to allow the ducks to avoid being trapped.

The final appearance until tomorrow:

Then the Boss came over, and we worked out what will be done by Landscaping tomorrow morning.

  1. A ramp will go from the water to the shrubbery alongside the building, allowing the ducklings to leave the pond and hide from predators. Right now, they can get out only on the bank, which is easily accessible to people and predators like feral cats.
  2. Filling in the duck island permanently with river stone up to one inch below the top, with those topped with nice flat flagstones for the ducks to rest on.
  3. Putting more dirt in the “tree islands” so that the mud is replaced with dry cover for the ducks to rest on.
  4. A wire fence to keep people from the shore to the north, so that the ducks don’t get too bothered.
  5. A “do not disturb the ducks” sign on the fence.

If this is done, then the brood stands a good chance. I was assured these fixes will happen, so keep your fingers crossed. Right now Honey has to rest on the bank with her body and wings covering all nine cold babies.

Click “read more” if you want to see the poor dead duckling.

RIP, little guy:


  1. Posted May 20, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Natural selection can be cruel and heartless.

    • Cindi Deschane
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      It is sad to see one of them not make it tho.. Love to see all the ducks make it this summer and return next year or stay all year long…

  2. Cate Plys
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Way to go, Prof. Ceiling Cat and Dr. Mueller! and the physical plant worker, willing to get wet on a really cold, dank day. It’s in the 40s in Hyde Park today.

  3. ploubere
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 3:13 pm | Permalink


    • GBJames
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Permalink


      • Flamadiddle
        Posted May 20, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink


        • freiner
          Posted May 20, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

          To quote Elaine: “It shrinks?”

          • mikeyc
            Posted May 20, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

            Like a frightened turtle

            • freiner
              Posted May 20, 2018 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

              Great! Now we can go out on a high note.

  4. Debbie Coplan
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    So glad you were there and took care of the problem. I hope the rest thrive.
    I’m saddened to see the one who didn’t make it.

  5. Posted May 20, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Great job!
    The fate of that poor duckling is sad. I remember that the Canada geese also lost a baby; could it be a similar incident?

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Might have a future in pondscaping, Jerry, this professor emeritus thing doesn’t work out for ya.

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      PCC Artisanal Duck Ponds.

      • BJ
        Posted May 20, 2018 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        Ceiling Cat Pondscaping

        “We promise not to eat your ducks!”

  7. Taskin
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    An impressive effort! Thanks for looking out for the ducks. It will be great to watch them grow up 🙂

  8. Paulo A Franke
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    This Part 2 of the Rescue Operation was priceless to read, huge thanks to Anna Mueller for the recording effort, well done!
    Standing by for pictures of the new and safer environment for the youngsters!

  9. freiner
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Genetic or not, it’s good to see altruism out there.

  10. Posted May 20, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t get physical plant to fix my heat in the dead of winter. The privileges of being at an elite private university, I guess.

  11. Mark R.
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    My d*gs killed a hapless bunny this morning, so I couldn’t see another dead wee thing.

    Good on you for all your hard work and dedication PCC(E)!

  12. Posted May 20, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    So sweet of you to help the duckies!!!

  13. Dan McPeek
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    You’re not only a distinguished professor,
    you’re one hell of a great human being.

    Thanks from an animal lover.

    • freiner
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 4:08 pm | Permalink


    • Posted May 20, 2018 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Yes indeed!

    • Melanie
      Posted May 21, 2018 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      I couldn’t have said it better. ❤

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted May 21, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Well said! ♡ to Jerry and the ducks.

  14. Jim Swetnam
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    So is Honey back?

  15. Glenda Palmer
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Ah, true love comes with responsibilities. PCC you are meeting them head-on. Appreciate the post. Tnx to the whole duck-tending team.

  16. BJ
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    What a mensch! And tell the guy from Physical Plant that we all say “thank you!” I assume I can speak for everyone here on that)

    • rickflick
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

      Yes, we all feel the same way.

  17. clive
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Why not fill the island with water until it’s at the same level as the rest of the lake? Then, if they can get in, they can get out again. That might not work if the stonework is higher than usual, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    • Posted May 20, 2018 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      Because those islands were designed to be respite for the animals in the pond. If they can swim in and out, they can’t rest on dry land away from predators, which is the object.

  18. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Oh how sad.

    I thought the ring thing would just not amount to much by the time everyone set up a safety structure

  19. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Also have to say it feels good, or something, seeing PCC(E) taking the initiative- I love that.

    Wash up good though right after – bacteria can be devious – it can happen…. I said to the botfly survivor….

  20. Posted May 20, 2018 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    You’re one of the good guys, Jerry. Bless your heart!

    • rickflick
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

      Sweet baby Jesus! Yes!

  21. Hempenstein
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    No waders to be had anywhere in the dept, from any of the Eco folks?

  22. Posted May 20, 2018 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    That was inspiring. I love landscaping and now you’ve shown a good example of how to modify our human habitats with a touch of evolutionary help.

  23. nwalsh
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    You’re a good man Charlie Brown.

  24. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Just FYI – the link to the previous (Templeton) page doesn’t work. Just brings up a ‘Not found’ page. (Same with the routine link via email)


  25. rickflick
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    …and they say atheists have no purpose in life. Ha!

  26. Diane Garlick
    Posted May 21, 2018 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    So heartwarming! 🙂

  27. Bob
    Posted May 21, 2018 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    Tikkun Olam.

  28. Posted May 22, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Amazing that Physical Plant lets you do all this stuff and even is helping out.

  29. Andrea Kenner
    Posted May 23, 2018 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for helping those little guys!

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