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Man rescues ducklings stranded on ledge

May 19, 2009 12:35:02 PM PDT
A mild-mannered banker from Spokane, Washington, turned into a sort of superhero for a few hours and will forever be known as "The Duck Man."Joel Armstrong works as a loan officer on the second floor of Sterling Savings in downtown Spokane. For some time, he'd been keeping an eye on a duck nesting on the ledge below his office window.

The ducks hatched on Friday, and Armstrong immediately realized the problem. There was no water on the ledge.

The mother duck flew down to the sidewalk, while her newborn ducklings, unable to fly, paced nervously along the ledge 15 feet above the ground.

Armstrong went downstairs and stood on the sidewalk beside the mother duck, trying to figure out what to do. In the end, the decision was made for him.

As he stood there, one of the ducklings suddenly jumped from the ledge and began plummeting straight down.

Armstrong reached out like a center fielder shagging flies and caught the duckling before it hit the ground.

Just as he set the baby down beside its mom, another jumped. Armstrong caught that one too. Luckily for everyone involved, Armstrong played college baseball years ago, and evidently his skills had not diminished.

By the time the first two ducks jumped, a crowd had gathered on the sidewalk.

"He's great, a good catcher," remarked one bystander. "I think Joel's legacy is playing out right here, the duck man," said another.

One by one, the ducklings jumped into Armstrong's waiting hands.

However, for some reason, the last four ducklings could not be coaxed off the ledge.

"Well, eight of 12 have jumped off finally," Armstrong said. "It's been a long day, I've been here since 5:45 a.m."

His day and and his work were far from over.

A ladder was brought in, and Armstrong climbed up to retrieve the four remaining ducklings.

There was still the problem of finding them some water, a problem compounded by the fact that the street was now filled with people lined up to watch a parade that was scheduled to pass by shortly.

Armstrong and the mother duck, cheered on by the crowed, led the 12 babies straight down the parade route, through the crowd barriers, across a park, and into the river.

"Oh, we did it!" Armstrong said as the family of thirsty ducks hopped into the water.

"Man, that was an ordeal, I can't believe we did it. Wow, we did it!"

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