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Duck adopts Yarmouth garden centre as nursery with help from caring staff

YARMOUTH, N.S. -  There was this duck, just hanging around Yarmouth’s Atlantic Superstore garden centre, causing manager Nancy Juliano some concern.

“I was like, what are you doing here? You’ve got to get out of here!”

A mother duck laid her eggs at the Yarmouth Atlantic Superstore garden centre.

But then, one day, the reason for the duck’s dallying became clear.

“She had jumped in among the flowers and made her nest,” said Juliano. “We looked and we couldn’t count for sure but knew there were between 10 and 12 eggs.”

A mother duck laid her eggs at the Yarmouth Atlantic Superstore garden centre.

The duck’s “nursery” was on a display table of plants for sale, but the staff arranged the greenery to provide her with a little more privacy and put up barrier tape.

Juliano watched her with interest. Laughingly she said she had never learned so much about ducks as she did in three weeks. Through research she learned the eggs would hatch within 30 days.

“I left here Friday night at 6 and Saturday morning there were nine little baby ducks.

A mother duck laid her eggs at the Yarmouth Atlantic Superstore garden centre.

It was awesome,” she said.

During her eight-hour shift each day, she watched the mother duck leave twice a day, presumably to eat and/or drink.

It was part of the daily routine for staff to check on the mother duck. One day one of the young employees said ‘I’ve got to go check on the chicken, I mean duck.’

The name stuck.

On Saturday, July 8, when Chicken returned from one of her outings, instead of jumping up into the nest, she sat at the bottom and quacked… until every little duckling had jumped off of the table.

“You’ve got to remember, it’s this high up,” said Juliano, holding her hand four feet off the ground.

Nancy Juliano, manager at Yarmouth Atlantic Superstore garden centre

So staff set bags of soil around the bottom of the table to soften the landing. One by one the ducklings jumped off the table.

“It was the cutest thing you’ve ever seen,” said Juliano. “I’ve been doing this for 14 years and I’ve never had anything like that happen.”

What amazed her was the instinctive ability of Chicken to know she had nine babies, and how to count them.

“She stopped quacking and when the ninth one was down there they all lined up and followed her out. It was the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life, honestly. It was so amazing. We had customers watching us. There were customers waiting to pay and they said, no, you keep videotaping it, we’ll watch with you.”

Juliano says she felt like the duck was her own after watching her for four weeks. She could see she was getting a little frazzled with the crowd of onlookers and no apparent way out.

So Juliano opened the back gate and the ducks trooped through.

“She seemed to know where she was heading,” she said.

The job wasn’t over yet for the duck guardians. The tribe was heading for a brook across Starrs Road – the busiest road in the region.

The manager of the store, Ritchie Babin and his wife Laurie came out to help. By now, the duckling line and their leader had reached the Comfort Inn.

“People are coming out of the hotel. Everyone is just amazed,” said Juliano.

Chicken got lined up with Jungle Jims across the road and off she went. With Laurie on one side of the road and Juliano on the other they held traffic back.

“There were people beeping their horns and waving. It was pretty cool,” said Juliano.

She says she hopes the mother duck comes back to raise another flock.

“In Charlottetown the same duck has been coming to the Atlantic Superstore garden centre for four years. They actually had a police escort to help them across the road,” she said.

The experience has left her with fond memories.

“Just to see those poor baby ducks jumping off the edge of the table. One would get to the end and think, uh uh, not doing it. He’d turn around then see the other ones doing it and off he’d go.”

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