A casual stroll on the South Side turned fowl for seven ducklings and their mother this morning when the babies fell into a sewer and needed rescuing.
The ducklings were following their mother across South Water Street near the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine when the they slipped through openings in the sewer grate. An Allegheny County sheriff who witnessed the tumble had to call Pittsburgh Animal Control to come to their aid.
The officers arrived to find the mother duck waddling nervously near the grate while her babies quacked in the sewer tunnel.
With the help of two public works crew members, Animal Control officers Leo Mincin and John Weprich removed the grate to rescue the ducklings with a large net. The youngsters ran up and down the tunnel as the officers tried to draw them out, banging on one end of the sewer to drive the ducklings out the other end.
Once they had lured one duckling out of the tunnel, the officers put it in a cage and let its quacking draw the others from the sewer to safety.
"It's a waiting game," Mr. Mincin said. "They start following the sound. They all want to be together."
Their patience paid off, and all the ducks were back in a row after about 40 minutes.
"The last one didn't want to come out," Mr. Weprich said, laughing as he carried the crate to nearby bushes to release the rescued ducklings.
The fall, at least six feet down into the sewer, did not injure the ducklings, Mr. Mincin said. The officers said they responded to a similar call earlier in the week, rescuing several ducklings from a sewer near Baum Boulevard.
This morning, the mother duck quacked from the bushes through the rescue, waddling close to the sewer at times to check on her babies.
"Moms in nature are more protective than humans sometimes," Mr. Mincin said. But the little family was reunited quickly and had disappeared into the bushes again shortly after the rescue.
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