Well, if this isn’t the sweetest spring story we’ve ever heard — and just in time for Easter! A smart mama duck found herself at precisely the right spot last week when her 10 ducklings hatched in the atrium of Baptist Medical Center Beaches‘ labor and delivery center. Perhaps her maternal instincts were taking over?
A spokesperson for Baptist Jacksonville said the mama duck flew into the enclosed courtyard area, where she then built her nest. Once the ducklings hatched, she couldn’t fly out with them, and there was no other exit out of the courtyard — so Baptist staff members got creative. It was all hands on “duck” when the proud mom and her babies were gently escorted out by a group of staffers, including certified lactation consultant Loretta Haycook-Haught. Oversized pieces of cardboard were used to carefully guide and usher them down the hospital hallway — the same corridor postpartum moms walk down with their own newborns when they are discharged — and out the front door.
Dr. Anita Patel with Beaches OBGYN, who is the exclusive OB/GYN group delivering at Baptist Medical Center Beaches, was watching the adorable procession alongside labor and delivery nurse manager Sam Maloney, who shot the footage. The video has quickly gone viral, garnering more than 50,000 views.
“She had to have flown into it to lay her eggs, seeing as it is an internal courtyard in the building,” noted Dr. Patel. “As far as we know, this is the first time this has ever happened!”
This mama certainly had all her ducks in a row; in the footage, you can notice her waddling around the corner, only to go back and make sure her babies are safe. The sweet video has been shared across local and national news networks including First Coast News, News4Jax, CBS Evening News, USA Today, and CNN.
News outlets are speculating that the duck appears to be a Florida mallard (also known as a mottled duck). Female mallards nest February through July and typically lay 8 to 10 eggs, with their nests resting on the ground. Within a day of hatching, ducklings can run, swim, and forage for food. Outside the nest, the group of ducklings (known as a brood) sticks close to their mother for safety and security, and they can often be seen following behind her in a neat, single-file line. Young mottled ducks are capable of flying 60 to 70 days after hatching.
We’re still “quacking” up over this sweet story — and the 10 unexpected births we had that day! Congrats, Mama. See you in six weeks for your follow-up!