Mallard ducks frequently make their nests at ground level, but for whatever reason a female Mallard in downtown Spokane, Washington, chose a cement awning ten feet up an office building for her nesting site. She laid her clutch of eggs just outside the window of Joel Armstrong, a senior loan officer at Sterling Savings Bank, and he arrived at work one day to find the ducklings hatched and the mother standing on the edge of the awning. As Armstrong watched, mama duck then flew down to the sidewalk below, and her ducklings started lining up on the ledge to jump down onto the hard concrete below to join her.
Joel Armstrong described what happened next for Spokane television station KREM:
"The first duckling goes to the edge and... smack. Just hits the sidewalk," he said.
Horrified, Armstrong darted out of his office and to the sidewalk below. The duckling laid motionless for about
The next thing Armstrong knew, all the ducklings had instinctively lined up on the ledge ready to follow the first one's lead.
Now lined up a like a centerfielder, Armstrong proceeded to shag ducks like falling baseballs from the sky with his bare hands.
"In one instance two jumped at the same time," he said.
Armstrong caught both.
"I truly think the entire time the mother duck could sense I was trying to help," he said. "She just stood there and allowed me to catch them."
Armstrong and some of his Sterling Savings co-workers then tried to escort the mother and her offspring to the Spokane River, but the ducklings were too slow to dodge traffic and make it all the way to the water under their own power. So their human helpers obtained a cardboard box, placed the ducklings into it, and walked them to the river, where the little fowl quickly took to the more hospitable aquatic environment.
"It was amazing watching them jump," Armstrong said. "Could you imagine the second day of your life having to jump from a building to get home?"