As the bridge keeper in Monty Python and the Holy Grail contemplated the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow, he probably would have had a hard time imagining a heavily laden female mallard duck gliding onto a NYC penthouse terrace and proceeding to hatch 16 babies. But that is precisely what happened to actor, Tina Chen. "Four years ago a mother duck landed on our terrace to have her babies. She, and now her daughter, have returned each year," explained Tina with a maternal sparkle in her eye. Stymied at first about what to do, she called Michelle Gewirtz, a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator with the Wild Bird Fund to ask for help. They advised her on the proper nutrition, how to keep them protected, and when the time came, helped relocate them to Central Park. Relocation to safer ground is helpful before they begin their flying lessons, as many jump off the roof tops and plummet to the ground.
"My husband and I went to Central Park to see if we could find the ducks after they had been released," recalled Tina. "I saw six teenage ducks swimming along, then suddenly they started power-swimming in my direction. They hopped onto land and ran to my feet. They had obviously imprinted on me."
Hundreds of Mallard babies are born in inconvenient and dangerous places around NY City each Spring. The Wild Bird Fund fields emergency calls concerning all kinds of stranded or injured birds. On any given day you can drop by their office to see a variety of birds, such as pigeons, ducks, songbirds, owls, pheasants or even a swan, in different stages of recovery. An informal network of volunteers also helps foster some of the convalescing fowl at their homes until they are strong enough to be released back into the wild. Contact the Wildbirdfund.org if you would like to foster or help relocate rescued birds.