Park View’s Courtyard Duck

Spring has just begun. A soon-to-be mother duck flies, scanning, analyzing, and eliminating places to build her nest, nothing striking her eye as a safe place to build it. An extraordinary place strikes her eye; the most warm and welcoming place to start her new family, the courtyard of Park View high school. This wonderful process of a mother duck laying eggs in Park View’s courtyard has become a staple in Park View tradition, and has been happening for many years, with a mother duck flying in at the beginning of spring. This year, she made her appearance in early April.

“This duck probably lives in the park next door [Claude Moore], and saw the courtyard as a place safe from predators and flew in,” explains Mrs. Irwin, the science department chair, and a chemistry teacher here at Park View.

This year, the mother duck built her nest in the senior courtyard; however, in years past, previous mother ducks have also built it in the science courtyard.

“She’s just a city girl!” exclaimed Erin Lee, a student at Park View and avid duck lover.


The city duck, when she first arrived, built a nest in a spot she feels is most safe and covered for her new home. This year, she chose to build it behind a bush near a window. However, this caused some concern that students may bother her since she had decided to nest next to a window. To take action, staff put up signs which warned others to not touch the glass and leave her alone. This is the entirety of what staff does to “take care” of the duck.


“What we do to take care of the duck is by making sure no students and adults can bother the duck,” said Mrs. Irwin, also explaining how the duck really does not want any interaction with people, being very afraid of us.


After she nested, felt safe, and was free from human interaction, the duck laid her first egg. However, a tragedy was soon to be struck, as the mother duck forgot one step of her process, covering her nest when she left to collect food.


“When she first started making the nest, before she had laid all her eggs, she had laid one egg and it actually got eaten the next day. It wasn’t covered and it was gone,” stated Mrs. Irwin.


The mother duck learned from this tragic event, and rarely left her nest, but when she did have to leave, she left it hidden. Now that her new 12 eggs had been laid, she had sat on her eggs, incubating them. This process of incubation usually lasts about 28 days for ducks, so Park View had about a month with our new duck and developing eggs.


“She usually sat on her nest all day when the students were here, and when the school got quiet, that was when she left and covered the nest and went to get food, and also maybe meet the daddy duck who is out there,” Mrs. Irwin explained.


Finally, after the incubation stage was over, it was time for the ducks to hatch, with the 12 eggs turning into 12 new ducklings who now were stuck inside the courtyard of Park View. 


“Within 24 hours, once the eggs hatch, the babies and the mom leave the nest to go find a new living place, and never return to the nest,” said Mrs. Irwin.


For the new family of ducks, time was ticking to leave the courtyard and find a new living place. However, being in the middle of Park View and not able to fly proved to be quite the obstacle for this family. Luckily, the ducks had the help of Park View students and staff to exit the building to move into their new place.


“We guide her through the school, so we pick a path where we can block off hallways so she can’t really go anywhere else, then we gently try to herd her into the school, through the hall, and out the back door,” stated Mrs. Irwin.


To get this position, Mrs. Irwin asks for volunteers, and in past years often students had volunteered, like last year AP students guiding the duck out. However, this year most of the herding was done by Ms. Hummer and Mr. Haraldo, along with Mrs. Irwin, who mostly gave them directions and guided them. Although, the duck, as she was terribly afraid of people, did not make this job easy.


“She tried to fly away, and then when she got inside she tried to fly into the window, so we had to block the windows with paper so she wouldn’t think they are windows,” explained Mrs. Irwin.


But finally, after lots of gentle herding, they were finally able to release our courtyard duck out the back door, allowing them to go off to find their new home, and possibly return to Park View in future generations.