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Iconic ramp installed and awaits ducklings’ debut

With so many people staying home during this pandemic, we’re seeing footage of animals reclaiming all parts of the world. Bears have been spotted seemingly playing in Yosemite National Park, penguins stroll freely through Cape Town’s quiet city streets, and here on our campus, home to so many creatures, the Mallard ducks have returned to Drumheller fountain.

Their descent into the pond has been made easier with help from Facilities employees who’ve installed the now rather famous duck ramp each spring for more than 10 years, refining it each season. 

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duck ramp 2020

Several pairs of Mallard ducks have been spotted recently at Drumheller Fountain, where Facilities employees have set up the duck ramp, which ducklings use to get in and out of the pond until they can fly. 

In mid-April, James Thornes, Daniel Peltier and Robin Shoemake, Facilities employees of Shop 14, assembled the ramp in hopes that campus fowl would not cry foul if it was absent. Their efforts have paid off: Howard Nakase, grounds maintenance manager, says while two mates have recently been spotted testing out the apparatus, no ducklings have debuted yet. 

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mr and mrs mallard pair

This pair of ducks was spotted recently checking out the duck ramp at Drumheller Fountain. 

 

The ramp is installed and used almost every April or May (although the ducks were on hiatus in 2019) so that they can more easily introduce their ducklings to water.  In normal years, onlookers enjoy, from a safe distance, of course, seeing them amble up the ramp, led by the mother or father, and then down the floating plank into Drumheller where they drift around, under the watchful gaze of their parents.

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mrs mallard and her flock

A female duck and her babies enjoy the fountain in 2017. The ramp allows easier access of Drumheller Pond for the ducklings. As always, please remember to stay a safe distance away from wildlife.

The ramp will stay up about a month, if ducklings appear, so that they have time to earn their wings and fly out of the pond. Visitors are always asked to remain far enough away from the ducks and their babies so they won’t frighten them from using the duck ramp.

It’s also in accordance with current social distancing guidelines, as all creatures need their space now more than ever.