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From Trinity to the Cedar: Quack, quack, waddle, waddle on the way to the river

  • A mallard hen and her 13 ducklings wait in the courtyard of Trinity United Methodist Church in Charles City Thursday morning, waiting to be let out to make their way to the Cedar River. Press photo by Bob Steenson

  • The hen and her ducklings make their way through the entry of Trinity United Methodist Church, guided by Dusty Schmitt. At left, Pastor Steve Hansen videorecords the parade. Press photo by Bob Steenson

  • The ducks see light at the end of the hallway as they head outside on the journey to the Cedar River. Press photo by Bob Steenson

  • Duck crossing. Press photo by Bob Steenson

  • Heather Dixon, in pink, and Dusty Schmitt, in blue, escort the ducklings through parking lots and across streets. Press photo by Bob Steenson

  • The group makes it safely across Clark Street. Press photo by Bob Steenson

  • The goal is in sight as Dusty Schmitt and Heather Dixon escourt the duck family through the parking lot by the Press and Hot Shots, near the river. Press photo by Bob Steenson

  • A bumpy rock-covered riverbank leads to the Cedar River. Press photo by Bob Steenson

  • In the water at last. Press photo by Bob Steenson

  • The mallard hen and her 13 ducklings paddle with the current, heading down the Cedar River. Press photo by Bob Steenson

By Bob Steenson, bsteenson@charlescitypress.com

It was a long walk for 26 tiny little webbed feet, but the reward was a cool dip in the river for the tired tootsies.

In what has been an annual occurrence for an estimated 14 years, a mallard drake and hen built a nest and hatched a brood of chicks on Trinity United Methodist Church property in Charles City.

Originally, the ducks — just one pair a year — built their nest on the roof, then the hatched ducklings dropped into the bushes below, according to those in the know. But for the last several years a momma and daddy duck have built a nest in the corner of the courtyard.

It’s unknown how many generations of ducks have continued this ritual.

Once the eggs are laid, the drake usually finds other things to occupy his time, while the hen incubates the clutch.

The eggs hatched Wednesday, exactly four weeks after being laid, with 13 fuzzy ducklings making their way into the world. By Thursday morning, momma duck was pecking at the courtyard door into the church, seeking a little help to enable her to march her flock on the six-block walk to the river.

After the route through the church entryway was prepared and everyone involved was ready, the hen seemed to have changed her mind, and it took a little gentle encouragement to start the family on its way.

Once out of the entryway and on the church sidewalk, the ducks headed for the Cedar River, with Dusty Schmitt and Heather Dixon helping guide them along the way and stopping traffic for street crossings.

Schmitt is an assistant teacher at Central Preschool at Trinity, and Dixon is director of discipleship at the church.

The entourage traveled past the YMCA and Apple Valley, then decided to check out the merchandize in Theisen’s fenced outside yard before getting back on track, through the First Security parking lot, across busy Clark Street, then by the Press and Hot Shots before warily hopping down the rocks and taking the plunge into the Cedar River.

An inspection of photographs taken of the family in the water shows all 13 ducklings made it safely to their destination.

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