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A Mother Duck Lays Her Eggs on a Seventh Story Balcony in London


Those forced to endure pandemic lockdown in a big city may have felt a little more cooped up than most. Being stuck in a small apartment for weeks on end and having few options for outside entertainment or recreation is enough to make anyone go stir crazy. Needless to say, city life doesn’t usually offer many opportunities to relax by getting out and connecting with nature either. However, for Twitter user Johanna Kolerski-Bezerra, a welcome distraction from the requisite monotony flew right to her doorstep—a nesting mother duck looking for a place to lay her eggs.

During the first lockdown enforced in London, the mom-to-be landed on Kolerski-Bezerra’s seventh-floor balcony on a block near Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London. An area known for its urban feel, neighborhoods, universities, and business districts, it isn’t quite the place to raise a brood of mallard ducklings—especially not seven stories up. Still, the plucky mother mallard proceeded to pick out a cozy planter on their balcony as the perfect spot for her nest. Surprised but not entirely upset by this new predicament, Kolerski-Bezerra named her newfound friend Carmen.

One year later, when the lockdown was again enforced in 2021, the mallard returned once more to reclaim her nesting spot. Unlike the previous year, this time Carmen brought company—a male mallard duck, who Kolerski-Bezerra presumed to be Carmen’s birth partner. “The first time we saw an egg it was a real surprise,” Kolerski-Bezerra explains. “How can a duck lay an egg on a seventh-floor balcony in a very urbanized area?! The second time around was a mixed feeling. We were happy to have her back but dreading the intense cleaning that comes after the ducklings.”

Despite a few misgivings the second time around, Kolerski-Bezerra allowed Carmen to reclaim her nesting spot and decided to document the whole process on Twitter. The dutiful mother duck prepared her nesting materials accordingly, plucking leaves from the balcony’s fake foliage screening and down feathers from her own breast to help keep the eggs warm while they incubated. After six weeks, the eggs began to hatch—initiating the complicated process of getting the newborn ducklings back onto level ground and to an appropriate water source for their survival.

“The new thing we learnt this year was to call for help,” says Kolerski-Bezerra. “Getting a duck and ducklings off a balcony is hard! Two volunteers from the Swan Sanctuary—Gill & Andy—came, and without them we couldn’t have done it. All of us took the duck family to the nearest pond, Waterglade, in the East Village.”

So, all’s well that ends well for Carmen and her brood of mallard ducklings. Now it seems we’ll just have to wait and see if the resourceful duck will reclaim her nesting place again next year or seek out greener, more ground-level pastures.

A nesting mallard duck decided to lay her eggs on a seventh-story balcony in a very urbanized area of East London, two years in a row!

The surprised owners welcomed back their friend and cared for the mother duck and her newborn ducklings until they could be safely returned to the wild.

Johanna Kolerski-Bezerra: Twitter
h/t: [IFLSience]

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