ANDOVER — Some temporary residents of the Andover Court assisted living facility have proven extremely flighty, but other residents like them anyway.
For the fourth year in a row this spring, a mallard duck flew into the facility’s inner courtyard, laid her eggs and hatched them.
“We think it’s the same one, we don’t know for sure,” said Beth Grainger, who moved into Andover Court with her husband, Jim, in time for the feathery family’s third and fourth appearances.
Fourteen ducklings hatched on April 17. Beth said this year’s visit couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Oh yes. We just came out of lockdown, from March to March, and so here come these little baby ducks. Everybody was interested in those ducks. They’d ask me how they’re doing. A lot of the residents have windows (looking onto the courtyard). This one man told me, ‘Oh, I watch those ducks all the time.’ It was a wonderful outlet for people here.”
Beth inherited the job of looking after the ducks, which meant buying food and a small swimming pool and doing little clean-up duty now and then.
“Of course, they’re messy, that’s the bad thing about it,” the longtime animal lover said. “I had to get the hose out.”
She researched ducks online and found that ducks would be ready for the outside world at the age of six to eight weeks. Before that could happen, on May 27, one was apparently snatched away by a winged predator. “That just broke my heart,” Grainger said.
On June 1, Grainger used a trail of food to lead the ducks out of the courtyard, down a hallway and out of the facility. From there, their mother led them to a nearby pond.
The Graingers retired in 2010, after second careers as part-time bus drivers for Andover schools.
“I didn’t know much about ducks,” Beth said. “I got pretty attached to the little things, I tell you.”