Hatch and release: Keim Hall’s visiting ducklings waddle into the wild

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Hatch and release: Keim Hall’s visiting ducklings waddle into the wild

ducklings follow a mother duck at the University of Nebraska
Craig Chandler University Communication

It’s a whole new world for the ducklings that hatched in the Keim Hall Courtyard on June 13.

On the longest day of the year, Keim Hall staff members are guiding the mother and her ducklings into the wild.

The ducklings have been a wholesome surprise for those who frequent Keim Hall.

“The ducklings were absolutely wonderful,” said Kay McClure-Kelly, administrative coordinator at Keim Hall. “Everyone really enjoyed watching them scamper around and swim. It was a great topic of conversation around the office.”

hen watches over her duckling
Craig Chandler University Communication

Outside visitors also enjoyed the ducklings.

“Last Monday I had a tour group of elementary and high schoolers come in and I told them we were going to talk about the plants,” said Ann Powers, research technician and lecturer. “I gave them a tour of the garden and the greenhouse and a classroom and then I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to show you this one last thing.’ They spent so much time just sitting in that window and watching the ducks and the turtles. I’ve talked to a couple of other people that said their tours also ended up at the ducks.”

Powers discovered the hen just before graduation weekend, while tending to the courtyard landscape in anticipation of visitors. She subsequently noticed a nest and eggs. When she arrived at work on June 13, 11 ducklings had hatched.

mother duck guarding her ducklings
Craig Chandler University Communication

Powers tweeted the duckling announcement, asking visitors to steer clear of the courtyard. This was part of her ‘no-humans’ approach to helping the baby birds survive.

“In the reading that I had done about them, it said the best thing is for them to not become familiar with people,” she said. “I also have an appreciation for nature and for things to be maintained with the lightest amount of human touch as possible. Trying to keep that balance of nature and people is really important and that’s why I wanted people to stay out of the courtyard.”

Now that the ducks have “flown the coop,” visitors can again enjoy Keim Hall’s dense foliage, florals and four resident turtles.

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