Maynard rescues duckling from hawk’s clutches

These ducklings make their home in the JC courtyard, and they are huddling close to their mother for warmth.

Lauren Glase

These ducklings make their home in the JC courtyard, and they are huddling close to their mother for warmth.

For Associate Director of Enrollment Edward Maynard, the rainy Monday was like any other day of the week as he strolled along from the main office towards his own office in admissions. That was until he spotted trouble and found himself barreling into the courtyard, waving his hands in the air, attempting to save a duckling from the clutches of a hawk.

“My initial intention was to just go in there and scare the hawk away, and when I went in there, I realized that he had a duck in his clutches. He was standing on top of a duckling,” Maynard said.

Maynard started to walk toward the bird bath where the hawk was, but the hawk flew away to the fountain with the duckling. However, the hawk “was having trouble getting off the ground because the duck was too heavy.”

“Then, I walked towards the fountain, and he tried to fly from the fountain to the roof above the cafeteria,” Maynard said.

According to Maynard, the hawk could not get high enough with the duckling to get onto the roof and away from him. After trying a second time, the hawk released the duckling from about six to eight feet off the ground, and it fell into the mulch.

At this time, Maynard found the duckling had a puncture wound from the hawk’s talons and suffered damage from the drop. He believed at the time that it was unlikely that the duckling would survive.

“I went and looked at him, and I felt pretty sure that he was going to die, so I came back into the office to get a t-shirt, so that I could wrap the duck up and, you know, discard him,” Maynard said.

When he returned though, the duckling was still alive, so Maynard wrapped it up in the t-shirt.

“I was freezing, and I just felt bad for the poor duck. You could tell it was in shock. It was just kind of shaking, and I figured when I came back out it’s not going to be alive anymore, but it was. It surprised me,” he said.

Then he returned to the office and called an old classmate of his who is a veterinarian. This friend referred him to Greenbrier Animal Hospital, which helpfully referred Maynard to Bel Air Animal Hospital, which was willing to take in the duckling. After dropping the duckling off and signing paper work, the animal hospital told him he could call back in the afternoon to get an update on the duckling’s progress.

According to Maynard, they said that “the duck was doing well. They had it under heat lamps, kind of like an incubator.” Then he called the next morning, and they said the duck “was doing great.”

A week later, Maynard called and was notified the duckling had made a full recovery and would be released into the pond at the animal hospital.

“I don’t normally do those sorts of things. I mean I know ducks get eaten by hawks regularly. It’s the cycle of life, but it’s kind of out of sight out of mind. If I don’t know it’s happening, it doesn’t affect me, but since I saw it, I didn’t want it to happen in front of all the other ducks I guess,” Maynard said.

This duckling that Maynard saved was one of the 13 original ducklings that found JC’s courtyard as a home this year. Of these 13, 12, including the duckling Maynard saved, survived.

According to Maynard, the remaining 11 ducklings in the courtyard were caged shortly after the incident and “removed to the pond” by facilities. The mother, who refused to be caged, simply followed them to Bynum Run Pond.

According to Maynard, “as cute as it is, no pun intended, they are sitting ducks in that courtyard. They have no place to go.”

Every year, for as long as Maynard can remember, there have been ducks in the courtyard. According to Spanish teacher Jane Michael, she cannot remember a time in the last 32 years there have not been ducks.

In the past, taking the ducklings and the mother to the Bynum Run Pond would be a large ordeal.

“It was always an event. A lot of people would stand in the courtyard corridor and watch the ducks being led out in a parade,” Michael said.

According to Maynard, they “ used to basically create a wall [with their bodies in the hallway], and they would herd the ducks up and push them out the door that’s closest to the academic wing and then walk them right out the front of the school, but we haven’t done that in years.”

Michael has found that “now you don’t really hear about it,” but she still thinks it is important to JC and made an important part of the daily working of the school.

“In the recent past, facilities have made it a priority to make sure the ducklings have food,” she said.

Students are kept from the courtyard when the ducklings are there and facilities make sure the ducks have food and water.

Overall Michael believes “it’s a good, positive tradition at JC.”

Hope Kelly is a Managing Editor for The Patriot and