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May 23, 2019

Photos: Ducklings make their annual march through Thompson Health

Daily Briefing

    Marking an "annual rite of spring," a mallard duck and her 13 ducklings last Thursday marched through Thompson Health's skilled-nursing facility in upstate New York—something the mother duck has done annually with a flock of fledglings for at least 10 years.

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    A 'rite of spring'

    At the same time each year, the same mother duck lays eggs and raises her babies in one of the enclosed courtyards at Thompson Health's M.M. Ewing Continuing Care Center, Thompson Health said in a widely shared Facebook post. Once the ducklings hatch, the mother uses her beak to tap on the door of the care center, signaling for the employees to let her in. Then, the ducklings will follow their mother through the facility to migrate to a nearby park in a procession that Thompson Health calls the annual "parade."

    Last Thursday, "it was time for this annual rite of spring," Thompson Health said in the Facebook post. That morning, the mother duck appeared at the door with 13 ducklings. The family of ducks was guided through the facility by staff who held signs to ensure the ducks did not get lost.

    Ducks Unlimited, a wetlands conservation organization, explained that North American mallards have a tendency to nest around human structures before migrating hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of miles in the spring. Some ducks like to return to the same place every spring to find food, which is why Thompson Health's mother duck and her ducklings appear at the same door every year at the start of the warm weather season, according to Ducks.org.

    Thompson Health patients, staff love the duck parade

    Thompson Health staff and patients have come to love the mother and her ducklings and look forward to the parade every spring, People reports. "She has us trained," one Thompson Health employee said in a photo caption on Facebook.

    The hospital in the post left a message to the ducks that read, "Good luck, guys. We'll miss you" (Boucher, People, 5/21; Beck, Mashable, 5/19; Officer, Inside Edition, 5/20; Christnot-Peters, GeorgeTakei.com, 5/20).

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