Gulport, FL-- A feathered family has been reunited thanks to the Gulfport Fire Department.
Tracy Suarez saw a baby duck, alone, wandering around busy 22nd Avenue South around 52th Street in Gulfport on Sunday afternoon.
Then the duckling disappeared.
Tracy heard a mother duck quacking, almost screaming and pacing around a parking lot. She looked into a storm water grate and spotted a whole feathered family -- nine babies -- in the drain.
The grate was not the kind you can lift up, it was cemented in place and there was no way out. The drain slats were so narrow there was barely room for an arm to fit in, and the little ones were out of reach.
Tracy ran to the Gulfport Fire Department a block away and the fire and rescue team went into action.
Bystanders stuck their hands into the drain and shooed the baby ducks down to a waiting firefighter, who found a mound of dirt in the bottom of the drain, making that part of the drain a few inches more shallow than the rest. One by one, Gulfport firefighters and rescue workers gently lifted the tiny ducks from the drain.
Then the question arose: what to do with the mother duck? A bystander grabbed a portable dog cage he had packed away and firefighters and bystanders slowly herded the mother duck into the dog cage with eight baby ducks.
But there was one little one left in the drain. It was running back and forth, lost without its brothers and sisters. The baby was so little it was still covered in fuzz, not feathers. The rescuers could feel the baby in the drain hopping against the walls, but unable to lift himself out.
They sat the caged mother next to the drain hoping she would call the baby toward her. And, strangely, the mother duck who had quacked nonstop for a half hour, went silent.
Patiently, the volunteers and firemen kept their arms buried to the shoulder in the drain when -- pop -- the baby jumped in the firefighter's hand and the rescue was complete.
They took the whole crew a few blocks away to a one-acre pond at 18th Avenue South and 54th Street. It was loaded with ducks and water critters, and everyone guessed that is where the feathered family had escaped from.
The firefighters zipped open the dog cage and the family waddled out, a few steps from safety and sunshine and home.
The firemen hung around for a few minutes... there were a few backslaps and handshakes. But they were left asking the age-old question: why did that duck cross the road?