Early on the morning of June 6, 2017, Lucy and her brood of six ducklings jumped down from their nest between the lilies in a Charlottetown Superstore Garden Centre and onto the parking-lot pavement. Superstore staff got on the phone to call the police as the black-duck family scurried slowly away from Lucy’s annual nesting site and toward busy University Avenue.
People who were tuned in to the DUC live nest camera the from behind their computer screens at home and at work got excited. They’d watched her incubate her eggs for weeks. Then they watched the eggs hatch. Now they got to see them get up and go little more than 24 hours later. Lucy was on the move!
By the time Lucy reached the road, police had blocked traffic, and it was safe to cross. And then they were off, stopping to wait periodically for a little one in the back, who kept tripping and flopping down on the pavement as its little webbed feet struggled to keep up.
So where exactly was the famous family they headed?
Between 2007 and 2010, DUC restored a collection of small shallow-water marshes on an experimental farm’s land behind the Farmers Market and CBC Charlottetown. Lucy usually takes her broods to the pond near the market, which is just across the street from the grocery store. If you’re lucky enough to take a walk along the trail there, you’ll spot songbirds, waterfowl and probably even a fox or two. But urban wetlands like these aren’t just important for wildlife. They provide recreation opportunities for the community, filter water, capture carbon, and add biodiversity to the city.
That’s why Charlottetown is lucky to host Lucy each year. She gives us an annual reminder of how critical these tiny wilderness areas are for all creatures—from the family of ducks crossing the road, to the family of people watching them from the sidewalk.