A mama Mallard waded anxiously Friday morning as animal control workers tried to rescue her palm-sized, 2-week-old duckling from a drainage pipe at the edge of a man-made neighborhood pond.
Residents of the Streams apartment complex in Fullerton were awakened at 6:30 a.m. by the quacking of the mother duck.
Orange County Animal Control and the apartment's maintenance crews arrived at the scene at 7:30 a.m., but by nightfall they had been unable to scoop the duckling out of the 3 1/2-inch wide, 2-foot deep, L-shaped pipe.
The crew tried to use a toilet snake and a vacuum but were unable to get close enough to the duckling, which repeatedly retreated into the pipe when human hands drew near.
"We are still trying, but the duck is just not cooperating," said Animal Control Lt. Brian Flick. "If he would just show himself we could scoop him up, but he's scared and staying at the far end right now."
The mother duck and her five other cotton ball-like offspring stood next to curious neighbors who watched the rescue, holding off work for as long as possible, even skipping showers and breakfast.
"I guess some people were late for work this morning," Andrew Phelan, a resident of the complex, said. "People watched as long as they could, but then they took off in a hurry."
Running out of options, Jason Phinney, a member of the apartment's maintenance crew, said rescuers finally placed a straightened coat hanger tipped with--what else?--a glob of duct tape baited with bread down the pipe. They'll just wait until the duck's hunger gets it out.
"This happens all the time in other pipes, but usually we can use a broomstick with the duct tape and get them out," Phinney said.