ST. MICHAEL, Minn. (WCCO) — For just about a month, the students of Big Woods Elementary have been watching a mother duck sit on her nest in the courtyard of their school.
On Tuesday, with a little help from some humans, mama mallard and her four ducklings moved through the school to a nearby pond in St. Michael.
“She was buried in snow, hail storm, just very cold weather. She nested very early,” said first grade teacher Aaron Heil.
That’s how Heil explains why only four ducklings from her nest of 13 eggs survived.
“With 13 eggs, she just had trouble keeping them all in the nest and tucking them underneath her,” he said.
For the last month, the cocoon of the courtyard at Big Woods Elementary, with 12-foot walls and plenty of shrubbery, kept out any animals who might want to steal and eat her eggs. The school also set up a live webcam to allow students and the public to observe the bird.
Her nesting in the school’s backyard gave teachers the opportunity to teach students about ducks.
“It’s a good learning experience for the kids about nature, things don’t always work out the way we have planned and it’s unfortunate that seven eggs didn’t hatch, but that’s nature,” said Heil.
Armed with cardboard, Big Woods staff carefully directed the mallard out of the courtyard, through the school and waddling to a nearby pond.
“It’s pretty cool to have a mother duck always coming here every single year to nest her eggs,” said one student.
“Things went really well. We’re fortunate that four of them did make it and we hope she returns again next year,” said Heil.
This is the third year the same duck has nested in the school courtyard. School staffers know because of a mark on one of her feet.