All hands on duck as Windsor teacher rescues bird babies from drain pipe
'They were so precious and so cute,' says Cheryl Trueman, who helped rescue a dozen ducklings
What started out as an average school day for elementary school teacher Cheryl Trueman soon turned into a rescue mission.
Minutes before the start of school, two custodians knocked on the window of her classroom at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic School in Windsor, Ont., and told her several ducklings had fallen down a drain pipe.
"[They] said, 'Ms. Trueman, can you please come help us? You have nice long arms — our arms won't fit down the drain pipe,'" she said with a laugh. "And so at that I said, 'I'll be right there,' and walked outside and the adventure began."
The pipe, Trueman told CBC News on Tuesday, was about two-thirds of a metre long and she was able to get her hand close to the bottom.
It was absolutely an emotional experience knowing that these little ducklings were in peril and we were able to save them.- Cheryl Trueman, Windsor, Ont., teacher
"The mother duckling was extremely agitated and that's what kind of alerted the custodians," said Trueman. "She was quite in distress. We're pretty certain these ducklings were born just over the weekend."
To calm the mother duck, Trueman got on her hands and knees and began plucking out the ducklings.
At first, she said, they assumed there were only about four.
"After we got the first four out, it was like, 'Oh and there's another one and here comes another one,'" she said.
By the end of it, she had recovered 11 ducklings.
"We got to the fifth duckling, and I pulled it out and I kind of held it up to the camera of the video that we have, and at that moment I was just in awe. They were so precious and so cute, and it was absolutely an emotional experience knowing that these little ducklings were in peril and we were able to save them."
When they didn't hear any more quacking, Trueman said they assumed they had rescued them all.
After the mother duck waddled away with her young, Trueman said, the custodians noticed there was a 12th duckling They dug down and broke the pipe to reach it.
Though it was too late for the duckling to be reunited with its family, Trueman said they called the Windsor-Essex Humane Society to pick it up, and it's now with Wings Wildlife in nearby Amherstburg.
She said Wings Wildlife will raise the duckling until it is old enough to care for itself and be released back into the wild.
Trueman and the custodians shared their mission on the school's Facebook page and were overwhelmed with the response.
"I think it's just a feel-good story, which is what we're all needing right now," she said. "It really was a lot of fun to be able to rescue those poor little ducklings, and people are relating to that right now and they want something that feels good and it sure does feel good."