Ducks Leave Behind Empty Nest

ROUTE 2/A weekly journey through Anne Arundel County

In Linthicum, Woman Who Harbored Mallards Feels A Deep Loss

July 17, 1991|By Arthur Hirsch

When last we left Daisy Duck, she was huddled in a nest under a bushin a backyard in Linthicum, sitting on 10 eggs.

The mallard was still there early Thursday evening when Dena LeCompte went out for a look. Daisy was at her post, but LeCompte saw that now she had company. Three little duckling faces poked up from behind her, getting theirfirst fuzzy glimpses of the world.

Early the next morning, LeCompte went out for another look. She found the brood had grown overnight from three to 10 ducklings. As Daisy watched, they swam and splashed in a shallow pan LeCompte had placed under the bush.

"It was just a very touching Friday," said LeCompte, who lives on Orchard Road with her husband, David, and son, Scott.

The LeComptes did not intend to go into the duck-hatching business. They were chosen by Daisy and her mate, Donald, who has not been seen since the end of May. In March, the two ducks dropped in to splash around in the water puddled on the vinyl pool cover in the LeCompte's backyard. They came back several times after the cover was removed, to swim in the in-ground pool.

Late in June, a friend of Scott's discovered the nest and eggs under a bush next to the pool. Dena called the state Department of Natural Resources, which advised her in basic duck hatchery. The LeComptes put up a short wire fence separating Daisy from the pool, as the chlorine could be toxic to the ducklings. They also placed a wading pool filled with tap water under the bush and, later, the shallow pan.

The state agency referred Dena to Annette Dietz of Severna Park. She's a registered nurse licensed bythe U.S. Department of the Interior to handle wild animals. She and Dena agreed to release the ducklings behind Dietz's home on Yantz Creek. On Friday, Dena and Dietz rounded up Daisy and her babies in two separate cagesand drove them to Severna Park. The babies "were chirping away" when they were separated from their mother.

And Dena suffered something like postpartum depression after she dropped the ducksoff.

"When we pulled away, I felt like crying," Dena said. "I did, a little. It was nice. I'm glad I was able to see a happy ending."

After spending the weekend inside Dietz's screened porch, Daisy and the little ones were to be released onto the creek Monday afternoon. Their presence had stirred up considerable interest among the localducks.

"Other ducks from the creek have been up to the house," Dietz said. "They know she's here. They get up on the roof and talk to her. My house is like a sanctuary. We don't own it, they do."

The LeComptes, meanwhile, are living with the empty nest. They rolled up the wire fence and stowed it, along with the wading pool. Next springthey'll watch the yard. Perhaps Daisy or some other wandering duck will find the LeCompte yard suitable for nesting.

"If it happens again," Dena said, "I'll just go through it again."

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