Mallards Choose Linthicum Backyard For Starter Home

Neighbors/Ferndale/Linthicum

Couple Is Expecting 10 Additions To Family

July 02, 1991|By Arthur Hirsch | Arthur Hirsch,Staff writer

In a duck's-eye view, the LeCompte backyard in Linthicum looked likeas good a place as any to start a family.

Here was this nice backyard in-ground pool for splashing and swimming and some bushes for privacy. When you're a wild duck and suburban sprawl is swallowing yournatural digs, you do what you can.

Now, Daisy the duck hunkers down in her nest hidden in the bushesin the backyard on Orchard Road. She sits and sits. Beneath her are at least 10 eggs.

The question is: Did the wild mallards adopt theLeCompte family or did the family adopt the wild mallards?

Well, a bit of both.

The male and female mallards first landed in the backyard one day in March, splashed around a bit in the water puddled atop the vinyl swimming pool cover and dined on the bugs that had collected there. Then they flew off in the direction of the Patapsco River, and returned a few days later.

This went on for weeks. They returned to swim in the pool after Dena and David LeCompte removed the cover around MemorialDay. On Father's Day, Daisy returned, but her mate, Donald, didn't. He hasn't been seen in weeks, but he is apparentlyabout to become a father.

The LeComptes discovered this late lastmonth after Dena LeCompte noticed that Daisy was spending a lot of time in the bushes next to the pool. Sensingsomething was brewing in there, she asked a friend of her son, Scott, to take a look. He found 10 eggs in a nest.

"We were all excited," said Dena LeCompte. "We could not believe it. The neighbors say they never saw anything like this happen before."

LeCompte called the state Department of Natural Resources, which referred her to Annette Dietz of Severna Park, a registered nurse who is licensed by the U.S. Department of the Interior to handle wild animals. She advised the LeComptes to just let nature takes its course. The LeComptes have done their best to create a duck hatchery in their backyard.

On advice from the state, they putup a short wire fence between the bushes where Daisy sits and the swimming pool to protect the ducklings from chlorinated water. Because the treated water can be toxic to ducklings, Dena LeCompte also bought a baby wading pool, filled it with tap water and placed it next to Daisy. LeCompte plans to set up a ramp so the ducklings can climb into the pool and has bought duck feed at a farmers cooperative.

Now all there is to do is wait.

"I've asked Dena to call me periodically and let me know what (Daisy's) doing," Dietz said. "The day she hears the sound, she should call me immediately."

The sound of baby ducks, that is, which Dietz expects the LeComptes to hear in about two weeks. After the ducklings hatch, Dietz said she'll take them and their mother to Yantz Creek, near where she lives, and release them there.

Dietz said episodes of this sort are becoming more common as development destroys wildlife habitat.

"I had a red fox in my backyard this year," said Dietz, who lives on Cedar Road.

Despite the environmental dilemma that the ducks' visit may signal, LeCompte saidshe and her family have been pleased to play host.

"I felt kind of special," she said. "They picked me out."

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