Saturday morning began like any other for retired movie theater manager Bill Moore. He was headed to the McDonald’s on South Broadway for his morning coffee when he spotted a mother duck and her eight ducklings crossing Waterman near Intrust Bank Arena.
When he came back the same way a little while later, he only saw the mother duck, looking distressed.
“I thought, oh boy, that’s not good,” he said.
Moore pulled in to a public parking lot nearby to look for the ducklings, who had fallen through a grate into a storm drain, right by the railroad overpass. He flagged down Wichita police Officer Ryan Doshier a few minutes later.
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Doshier’s call came into dispatch at about 9 a.m.: “I have an unusual request.”
It took about 30 minutes before a city crew from Public Works and Utilities arrived on the scene. All the while the mother duck stayed nearby, pacing back and forth, quacking to her brood. The “cheep,” “cheep” of the ducklings could be heard as vehicles whizzed by.
The workers seemed to know exactly what to do, and soon the ducklings were retrieved from under the street.
This was the city’s fifth duckling rescue in the past seven years or so, said general supervisor Darrin Deutscher, who brought his young son along for the rescue. The team worked quickly, setting up cones to block traffic on either side of the storm drain and blocking off part of the drain to corral the ducklings.
Saturday’s rescue was easier than some of their earlier ones, Deutscher said, because the storm drain was wide enough for crew member Miguel Sanchez to shimmy through, collecting the eight ducklings in a plastic trash container and handing them up to fellow city employee Eldon Headrick.
After a hasty reunion, mother and babies continued on their way — away from the street.