Steamboat Springs A mother duck and her 10 ducklings caused a stir near the post office at Third Street on Thursday when the mother duck decided she wanted to get to the Yampa River — by crossing Lincoln Avenue at about 6 p.m.
Bystanders began worrying and started to stop traffic to let the family cross safely, Shannon Lukens said.
“People were stopping, and everyone was getting concerned,” she said.
But before the ducks could make it even halfway across, the mother duck seemed to reconsider her decision and led her little quacking flock back up into the parking lot.
“They were all just in a tizzy and split up, then back together. Mommy was one direction, babies were in another,” Lukens said.
Finally, the family spotted the water of Spring Creek, Lukens said, but a couple of the babies got swept up in the water and taken through the culvert, under Lincoln to the Yampa and away from their group.
Lukens said she was trying to help keep the babies away from the fast-flowing current but suddenly realized she was in a precarious position on the edge of the stream.
“I almost fell in. I thought … here I’m going to fall in chasing this stupid duck.”
Two of the bystanders found the swept-away ducklings on the other side of the street and brought them back to a loud reunion with their mother, and finally the family seemed to be all together, Lukens said. She snapped photos during the process and debated whom to call.
She said she was going to call the police, but what would she say? That there was a group of ducks by the water?
“That’s what ducks do,” she said.
Finally she called the Colorado Division of Wildlife, and wildlife technician Steve Baumgartner responded. By that time, the family was nowhere to be seen by the edge of Spring Creek.
“When I got there, we couldn’t find any of the ducks at first,” he said. “I went over to the Yampa River side and saw two ducklings running toward the water squawking their heads off.”
Baumgartner said this likely is something the mother duck has done before.
“Just from the behavior, we can assume the mother duck had done the same thing with her mother,” he said.
Although the Yampa River and its tributaries are flowing fast with runoff, he said the ducks shouldn’t have any problems.
“It is kind of fast water, but along the shores over there there’s some slow water,” he said. “Ducks are such incredibly good swimmers, they can stay out of the fast water and they know what they’re doing.”
Lukens, who submitted the photos to the Steamboat Pilot & Today, said she hopes the family ends up safe but that it was entertaining to watch.
“One thing for sure … this story quacks me up,” she said in an e-mail.