For Mill Valley Police Lieutenant Jacqueline Graf, a Mallard duck’s death late last month at the hands of a distracted driver during a rainstorm hit too close to home on two fronts.
First, the incident happened right in front of the Public Safety Building, behind which the duck had a nest and had become a well-known fixture for staffers of both the Mill Valley Police and Fire departments for the past three years.
“We have watched the mother duck successfully raise three clutches of ducklings,” Graf said. “The staff looks forward to the pair returning every year. So this was incredibly sad.”
But perhaps even more personal for Graf, a lifelong animal lover, was discovering seven duckling eggs in the nest and realizing that they had no chance of survival. She knew that you should never remove eggs from a nest, but she also knew they would not survive.
“We knew the mother would not be returning,” Graf said.
Graf, knowing that local animal organizations like Wildcare and Marin Humane Society do not collect wild duck eggs, took the seven eggs in a warm blanket, brought them home and purchased an incubator and related accessories. She and her husband, former Ross Police Chief James Reis, waited the standard 28 days in the hopes that at least one would hatch. Day 28, then 29 and then 30 passed without a hatch, but on day 31, a duckling hatched from the egg.
The couple named her “Millie” for Mill Valley.
“We were thrilled,” Graf said. “We’re both happy and grateful that we were able to successfully hatch one egg. We look at it as one for one. We saved for one of her babies, and hopefully she’ll have her own clutch of ducklings some day.”
Reis delivered the duckling to International Bird Rescue
in Fairfield, where spokesman Andrew Harmon said the duckling is “doing very well and is in an incubator with a fellow duckling.”
“I just checked on the duckling,” he added. “It’s very tiny but it’s in expert hands. We really appreciate them bringing the duckling to us.”
While Graf is thrilled at the outcome, she noted that the incident also provides a stark reminder at the end of April, during which law enforcement conducts its campaign against distracted driving.
“Drivers need to slow down and pay attention,” she said.
You may be able to see Millie by checking out the Birdcam
- a live webcam at the rescue center.