Visiting ducks give shoppers something to quack about

By Maecy Enger, Columbian Staff Reporter

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Waddling into the parking lot, giving a good quack, laying eggs in the flower beds and gobbling down some bread is how these ducks spend their days.

A family of ducks has made its home near the Albertsons Fuel Center in the Salmon Creek area. For at least 10 years, if not longer, observers say, the ducks have been crossing the grocery store parking lot from a marshy area at a Kaiser Permanente office building. Kim Benson, who works at the gas station, said that someone started feeding the waterfowl, so they keep coming back.

“Its something you don’t normally see in a parking lot,” Benson said.

Two ducks have been coming there for at least five years, observers estimate. They say they believe one is a female, and the other a male. Last year, a smaller duck joined the pair; Benson said she believes it to be one of last year’s babies.

Although the ducks are relatively friendly, they won’t let people touch them. Benson said that if they know your voice and you call them, they will try to waddle even faster toward the gas station.

Many of the workers at the Albertsons Fuel Center often have something to give the birds to eat when they come by. Normally, they get pieces of bread or hot dog buns, and someone will pour a glass of water out, so the ducks can “wash it down.”

A lot of the customers come to take pictures of the ducks. While parents are fueling up, kids will often get out of the car to look at the birds. The ducks also sit by the front door of the store until it gets too busy, then they waddle away.

The ducks must know their way around because, as far as Benson knows, none of them has been hit by automobiles there, but she says she worries about them, all especially the mother duck.

“I’ve tried to feed her closer to the pond (to avoid luring the bird into traffic), but that’s how she gets her exercise, I guess.” Benson said.

Sandy Sayre, store director of the Salmon Creek Albertsons, said employees have put up signs that read “Mother Duck X-ing” on orange cones in front of the store.

“That, in itself, gets a lot of people’s attention,” said Sayre.

The ducks normally visit the area a few months of the year, observers say. This year, they starting arriving right before Easter. Now, according to one of the Albertsons employees, the mother duck has a nest of 15 eggs. When those eggs hatch, that will be a lot of little mouths to feed.