It was almost a scene out of Robert McCloskey’s beloved children’s book, “Make Way for Ducklings” on Sunday morning – only better.
Shortly after 8 a.m. the westbound lanes of Kellogg in East Wichita came to a screeching halt, then inched slowly along.
A mother duck and her 12 ducklings were taking up both lanes of the heaviest-traveled roadway in Wichita.
Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Sgt. Terry Litton pulled his patrol car over and turned the car’s lights on to divert traffic slowly around the feathered family as they paraded down Kellogg between Woodlawn and Armour.
“They were walking along Kellogg at the speed of smell,” Litton said later Sunday afternoon.
Litton was hoping the mama would veer her children into any one of the storm drains that are placed about every 100 feet along Kellogg – but no, she didn’t.
As the procession inched nearer to Woodlawn, Litton said he was hoping the mother would walk her tiny family up the off-ramp leading up to Woodlawn to get her off Kellogg.
No, she didn’t do that, either.
Cars and other vehicles crept by. People pointed.
And then, something bad happened.
Eight of the little ducklings fell through a storm drain grate 6 feet below the surface of the ground.
“Me and my other deputy just look at each other,” Litton said. “Mama won’t go anywhere. The other four ducklings are following her.”
The county fire department was called.
Four hefty men pried open the storm grate. A raincoat was thrown down to prevent the ducklings from going farther down the drain. A deputy jumped down and scooped each of the babies into a plastic tub. The other four were also quickly gathered up, leaving the mother duck concerned.
She flew out into the middle of Kellogg. Then, back to her babies. Then, back onto Kellogg.
Finally, she waddled her way up to the officers and stood by the cheeping, peeping tub of ducklings.
A long arm of one of the lawmen reached down to grab her. The duck family was quickly placed in the back of one of the patrol cars and escorted to the Sedgwick County Park, where it was released, Litton said.
“We called it a Cluster Duck.”