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Curiosity killed the quack: Mother duck and nest run ‘afowl’ after of too much attention


By B.F. Kimball – Photo by Brad Bakke

Despite the efforts by Public Safety officers and others, the mother duck that had taken up residence at Chemeketa a few weeks ago abandoned her nest shortly after her whereabouts was made public.

“I know they were well intentioned,” Bill Kohlmeyer, Chemeketa’s Public Safety director, said of those who were trying to help.

When the duck and her nest were first discovered, Kohlmeyer and his staff released memos and warned people to leave the duck alone. Too much scrutiny would cause the duck to abandon the nest and the eggs.

“I don’t know if people recognize, even though she was here … she still is a wild creature,” he said. “It’s unfortunate,”

The high stress environment of nesting near a parking lot and being subject to an increase in attention were cited as possible reasons for the mother’s abandonment of her eggs.

What happened to the eggs?

Shortly after the mother duck left the nest, the unhatched eggs were broken and eaten by predatory birds.

“It was a mistake drawing attention,” Kohlmeyer said. “We would’ve been better off leaving her on her own.”

Students and staff should be watchful of other possible nestings on campus and avoid the areas if at all possible.

“It happens from time to time,” Kohlmeyer said. “There might be another one we don’t know about.”

Kohlmeyer also said the story of the mother duck and her nest serve as a warning: Ducks are wild animals and are not fond of human interaction, even if the intentions are honorable.

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