Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Firefighters rescue nine ducklings from storm drain near Tyrone Square Mall

ST. PETERSBURG — The mother was pacing back and forth above the storm drain, calling for help.

Her babies were stuck below.

People passed without a second glance. But Mitchel McNeal­ly couldn't ignore the mother's cries. He stopped, edged closer and peered past the metal grate.

There they were, piled atop one another in a storm drain behind the Old Navy at Tyrone Square Mall: nine brown ducklings, calling to their mother.

"She seemed so frustrated," said McNeally, a 52-year-old janitor from St. Petersburg. "She wouldn't leave the spot for anything, even as I got close to it. I knew something was wrong."

First he called the city. No luck. Then he tried a local TV station. Strike two.

Firefighters got the call about 9:52 a.m. They arrived four minutes later to find the mother duck perched above the drain and McNeally guarding the spot from about 15 feet away.

"She was obviously distraught," Lt. Tom Kras said. "She was definitely standing on the grate protecting them."

The firefighters suited up in partial bunker gear — boots, pants and gloves. Guarded at first, the mother eventually let them approach.

The mother duck stood nearby, quacking constantly as the firefighters worked.

It took three men to lift up the grates that held the ducklings in.

Once the grates were off, firefighter Ted Johnson jumped down into the drain. The ducklings scattered.

Corralling them with his legs, he scooped them out, one by one.

Handling ducklings is harder than it looks, the firefighters said. The key is to hang on to them without squashing them.

"They're very vigorous," Kras said. "They were fast."

Once set down, the ducklings ran to their mother. Except one.

"He got out of my hands so fast," Kras said. "He didn't know where to go. He was scared."

The little duck jumped out of the firefighter's hands and sprang through the parking lot. Kras had to chase it under three or four cars before catching it.

"It was really funny," McNeally said. "Big ol' firefighter chasing around this little thing."

Kras, a 13-year veteran, said this is the first duckling rescue he has ever been on.

McNeally stuck around until the mother had all her ducks in a row. He watched as they filed over a median and into some Hawthorne bushes.

Safe.

"When somebody needs help, you got to try to help them as best you can," McNeally said. "Even if that somebody is a duck."

Marissa Lang can be reached at mlang@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3386.

Firefighters rescue nine ducklings from storm drain near Tyrone Square Mall 05/03/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 3, 2012 10:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs' Ali Marpet: Move to center could pay off big

    Bucs

    TAMPA — No player works as closely with Jameis Winston as the center. Only those two touch the ball on every play. Together they make — if you will — snap judgements about defensive alignments.

     Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Ali Marpet #74 warm up prior to preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) 700069805
  2. Inside the Rays continuing historically bad slump

    Blogs

    The numbers tell the story of the Rays inexplicable ongoing offensive slump, and the words detail how tough it has been to deal with.

  3. How Rays' Chris Archer is branching out on Twitter

    The Heater

    Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer (22) leans on the railing of the dugout during the All-Star game at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla. on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times

  4. Candidates for governor get emotional talking about their gay siblings

    Blogs

    Occasionally in today's hyper-rehearsed and contrived world of political campaigns one witnesses moments that are so honest and real, we can't help but understand we're not just listening to another politician give his or her stump speech; We're listening to a human being who understands personal pain at least as well …

    Chris King talking to reporters in Tallahassee
  5. Southern heritage groups sue to keep Confederate monument at old Tampa courthouse

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Groups that say they support Southern heritage filed a lawsuit late Friday trying to halt the removal of a Confederate statue from downtown Tampa.

    Workers place boards around a Confederate monument on Hillsborough County property in Tampa on Thursday, August 17, 2017. It took 24 hours to raise private funds in order to move the statue from its current location.