The Parable of the Ducklings or Let The Experts Do Their Jobs

One of the frustrations of what we do is that everybody seems to think they can do it. Instead of allowing people who have years of education and experience do what they think will work, many clients think that they need to rule with an iron hand. Well, here’s a cautionary tale of what happens when we try to do a job we’re not the experts at:

I arrived early at my office one day last week to try to get through a number of important tasks before the official work day started. No such luck. When I pulled in, a gentleman in my building informed me that four baby ducklings were trapped in the storm drain in our parking lot. Being an animal lover and an efficient account person, I volunteered to handle the matter. I called the City. Fortunately for the ducklings, it was a slow crime day and both a police car and a water department vehicle arrived in ten minutes to rescue the adorable black and brown babies, whom I dubbed Donald, Huey, Louie and Dewey. They were quite vocal and it was clear they were happy to be free. The policeman wasn’t too sure what to do with them, so of course, I volunteered to act as real estate agent and relocate them.

My coworkers weighed in and it was agreed that I should take them to Gallup Park, by the Huron River, where ducks and geese hang out. I set them free at the edge of the pond and they swiftly paddled off together clearly enjoying their freedom. I returned to the office feeling like I had done my good deed for the day.

My euphoria quickly vanished when I returned to find the Director and a volunteer from the Bird Center of Washtenaw County who had received a call from the City about the ducklings. They had come to collect Donald, Huey, Louie and Dewey, as they have a volunteer who specializes in taking care of baby ducks. One of the women tearfully told me that their hours were numbered as other mother ducks aren’t keen to take care of babies that aren’t their own – wish I’d known this before I had willy-nilly set them free in a good sized pond.  Of course, I felt totally guilty, so I offered to go back and see if I could collect them back.She handed me two small nets and a small bucket with some towels to keep them warm should I be lucky and recapture them.

I recruited some friends from the office and off we went. We searched around the edge of the pond and there they were. As we positioned our nets they high-tailed it into the middle of the pond far from our reach. We spent 45 minutes attempting to coax them to shore. They were clearly happy as clams paddling about and would have nothing to do with us. We returned unsuccessfully to the office where I called the Bird Center to report on my failure.

Next morning, I arrived early at their small building on Mary Street. I walked into this amazing space with tables covered with small buckets that held over 100 injured birds of every kind. There were five volunteers busy with eyedroppers feeding them various concoctions. It was a sight to behold. Until the day before I had no idea that this place even existed much less all the great work they are doing to take care of these injured or baby birds.

Having seen the efforts these volunteers go to for their birds, I suddenly didn’t have the heart to give up the hunt for the ducklings. I was given yet another larger net and some duck food with the hope that this time I could capture them. I will keep you posted on the outcome. But the important part of this story is that if you find an injured or baby bird or duckling or gosling in the Ann Arbor area, call the Bird Center of Washtenaw County 734-761-9640. They are the experts, and they are the ones who should be allowed to do their jobs.

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