Ducklings orphaned by snapping turtle saved after wild Central Park chase

Ducklings orphaned by snapping turtle saved after wild Central Park chase

May 21, 2020

Make way for orphaned ducklings!

A quintet of motherless baby Mallards is safe and sound Thursday after a four-hour wild duckling chase in Central Park.

“It’s very amazing!” cheered second-grader Poppy Fox, 7 — one of 30 onlookers watching the dramatic rescue.

“In kindergarten I studied all about ducklings,” she said as the five were safely netted by an Urban Park Ranger.

The five un-fledged fluff-balls had become orphans sometime Wednesday, when their mother was eaten by a snapping turtle in a pond called Central Park Pool, off W. 100th Street.

Left to themselves, the five would have faced the same fate as their mother, says Rita McMahon, who heads the nearby Wild Bird Fund, a rehabilitation center that is now the ducklings’ new home.

“It has to be a pretty big snapping turtle, to take down a full-grown hen,” McMahon noted.

“They’re just turtle snacks,” she said of the ducklings.

A clutch of Urban Park Rangers spent much of Thursday in pursuit — from the shore and by kayak.

But with each approach, and despite the tossing of handfuls of duck chow, the skittish ducklings darted off across the pond.

“We tried to us the boats to get them but they are very fast,” one Park Ranger told The Post.

By 1:30 p.m., the unlucky Mallards had ducked the Rangers entirely.

“They disappeared,” conceded the ranger, who asked not to be named.

Finally, close to 2 p.m., the rangers cornered the baby birds on the pond’s southeast shore.

“I got them!” a grinning Ranger Ashley Whited shouted as she held her net aloft, victorious. “All five of them!”

The babies will be kept at the Wild Bird Fund for the next three weeks or so, said McMahon, then released to a sanctuary.

Without a mother to teach them how to survive in the wild, they wouldn’t make it, she said.

“There are snappers everywhere,” she noted.

Even without losing their mother, “her babies would have disappeared slowly. Three a day,” McMahon said.

“They don’t live there in the water. They would be gone,” she said. “Now, this means they will live.”

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