April 10, 2010 in City

Ducks into urban planning

With downtown nest, waddling only weeks away from swaddling
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Dan Pelle photo

A mallard duck has built a nest and laid an egg in a planter box on West Riverside Avenue downtown. Several ducks have been spotted scoping out the area.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

The well-known mama duck has hatched a new trend: nesting in downtown Spokane along Riverside Avenue.

A mallard made her nest near the Lincoln Building on Friday; a mallard also has been spotted twice at the previous post, Sterling Savings Bank, and ducks have been seen flying between the buildings, possibly scouting.

It appears that word has also spread about the difficulty of leading your offspring off the 12-foot ledge at Sterling – the most recent nesting spot is on the ground level, hidden in a flower bed.

“This is the time when they start nesting,” said Joel Armstrong, the loan officer at Sterling Savings Bank who has led the last two mamas and their babies to the Spokane River. “I have a lot of people telling me they’ve seen ducks.”

Gary Grissom, a loan officer for a mortgage company, was thrilled about the mama duck’s choice for a nest.

“I have a front row seat,” he said. “I love it.”

The mallard arrived Friday morning. “A duck flew into the planter outside my window, and looked around, then came up to the window and checked me out, then waddled off,” Grissom wrote in an e-mail. “About 45 minutes later she came back and started building a nest in the midst of the tulips. She worked for a couple hours on her nest.”

The mallard did check out Grissom to make sure he’d be a good duck man. He said she paced back and forth in front of the window several times.

“She’s used to me moving around in here,” he said. But when other people come in, she gives them a hard look.

Grissom, who has already become attached to the bird, was unsure what, if anything, he needed to do. So he called Armstrong for advice.

Armstrong told him he didn’t need to do anything. “They know what they are doing,” he said.

“I didn’t know Joel until I called him this morning,” Grissom said.

The mama duck will spend the next few days laying eggs, then she’ll stay there until they are hatched – about a month.

The duck has laid one egg so far. After that, she headed out. Armstrong said she was probably looking for her mate, which is typical.

Armstrong no longer has the window seat at Sterling, and the mama mallard who was there a couple days ago hasn’t returned. Nonetheless, he said he’s “glad there’s a duck nesting downtown.”

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