DANVERS — In Robert McCloskey's children's classic "Make Way for Ducklings," a family of ducks gets help crossing the street from some Boston police officers.
Yesterday morning, ducklings trapped in a storm drain behind PetSmart on Route 114 got an assist from two of the pet store's employees and the Animal Rescue League of Boston.
About 9 a.m., Scott Olszewski of Peabody and Bob Jesionowski of Lynn were taking trash out to metal bins behind the building when they saw a duck, quacking frantically, nearby. They could hear ducklings chirping, too, but couldn't tell where they were.
A stream runs behind the store, and at first, the two thought the family of ducklings must be down there.
Then, as they got closer to a storm drain in the back of a parking lot, "we looked straight down," Olszewski said, and saw about a dozen yellow-faced ducklings floating inside it.
The pet store employees called the Animal Rescue League of Boston, which sent Brian O'Connor and Bill Tanguay to the rescue. When they arrived, the mother was standing on the curb overlooking the storm drain, and the men could hear the ducklings inside.
"She wasn't going to move because of the kids," said Olszewski, who said while he could not get close to the mother, she refused to leave the ducklings.
The men lifted the storm grate, and Tanguay used a net to scoop approximately 10 ducklings from the murky water and put them in a cardboard pet carrier. The first eight were rescued pretty easily, but it took some time for the last two to "make themselves available," O'Connor said.
Mom didn't make things easy after her wayward brood was lifted to safety, so Tanguay and O'Connor had to capture the mom before the duckling family could be reunited. The family of ducks was later released into the wild at a nearby pond.
This time of the year, it's not uncommon for the Animal Rescue League to get these kinds of duck calls, O'Connor said. What probably happened was the ducklings were following the mother, whose webbed feet are big enough to pass over the grate. While mom was able to walk over the storm drain, the ducklings probably fell in one by one, O'Connor said.
Not all the ducklings made it. A couple perished before they could be rescued, O'Connor said.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DanverSalemNews.