As It Happens

U.K. man delighted when a duck returned to his 9th-floor balcony to hatch her eggs

Steve Stuttard couldn't believe his luck when a duck nicknamed Mrs. Mallard chose his balcony in Greater Manchester, England, as a nesting site for the second year in a row. 

For the 2nd year in a row, Steve Stuttard has helped a ‘Mrs. Mallard’ get her ducklings safely to water

A mallard has nested and hatched ducklings on Steve Stuttard's ninth-floor balcony in Manchester, England. (Submitted by Emma Newman)

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Steve Stuttard couldn't believe his luck when a duck nicknamed Mrs. Mallard chose his balcony in Greater Manchester, England, as a nesting site for the second year in a row. 

"To have Mrs. Mallard pick my balcony to make a nest was unbelievable," Stuttard, an ornithologist and a lifelong bird lover, told As It Happens host Carol Off.

The creature made its nest some 45 metres above ground on Stuttard's ninth-floor balcony overlooking the Manchester Ship Canal in Salford Quays.

After Mrs. Mallard hatched 11 healthy ducklings on Tuesday, Stuttard engaged on a dramatic mission to get mother and ducklings safely to the ground.

"I'm ex-Royal Navy, so we used the same techniques we'd use to transfer a person from one ship to another," Stuttard said.

Stuttard has always loved wildlife. On the left, he's pictured as a young boy holding a map called 'Birds of the world.' On the right, an adult Stuttard carries a tray of beer. (Submitted by Emma Stuttard)

That method involved putting soil in the bottom of a bucket and placing the ducklings inside, then lowering the bucket to the ground.

"Considering the weather conditions, it went well," he said. "We had quite a crowd as well at the bottom ... lots of people walking past who saw this line of ducklings following mom in to the water."

Stuttard came up with his bucket technique last year, when Mrs. Mallard first nested on the balcony. He said he couldn't use his building's elevator to bring the ducklings down because he didn't want to break the bond between them and the mother

While he was lowering the bucket last year, he said there was quite a commotion with the mother and ducklings quacking at each other.

"The bucket acted like a megaphone for all the chicks. So it was really loud," he said

Duck eggs resting in a planter on Studdard's balcony. All 11 hatched on Monday. (Emma Newman/YouTube)

Once the ducklings were safely on the ground, Stuttard found his own way to the down and herded the family to the nearby water's edge.

He also made sure his balcony was duckling-proofed by making sure the gaps in his handrail were blocked off and no duckling could fall through.

"I've put a screen across so I could actually move around my apartment without disturbing her. But I can still check every so often by just peeping over the top to make sure she's OK."

Stuttard's story has gained local and global attention after his daughter, Emma Newman started sharing it on social media.

Her account of her father's dedication includes his warding off circling predatory birds and using surveillance tactics from his time in the Navy in preparation for hatching day.

"There are people in Japan watching these things, South Africa, America, all over Europe," he said. "It's just such a great story in times that need great stories," Stuttard said.


Written by Rachel Adams. Interview produced by Chloe Shantz Hilkes.

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