William and Heather Ridenour were sitting on the porch drinking coffee June 3 when a mother duck and her nine ducklings passed by.
Later that afternoon, the Ridenours noticed she was still on the street and in distress — and her ducklings were missing.
"We could see the mama duck, but her babies were nowhere to be found," Heather said.
The Ridenours suspected the ducklings were stuck in the storm drain.
William went into his garage to get supplies and told his daughter, Kathryn, to grab a box and follow him. Once they got out of the garage, the mother duck flew away. William pried open the lid of the manhole, climbed down and to the other side of the street.
"I'm a lineman so it wasn't a big deal going down into the sewer. Just a tight squeeze was all," said William, who also hunts birds. Even the family dogs, Zena and Satzi, are trained to hunt quail, chukar partridge and doves.
William handed seven ducklings up to Kathryn, although he was unable to find two of the original nine.
"Mama Duck never came back," Heather said. "She was there like six hours."
After being abandoned, the ducklings needed a new home.
"All these messages kept flying in from different people, 'Oh, I want a duckling,'" Heather said. "We were telling everybody we want to keep them together. We don't want them to be pets; they need to be released."
After calling Hesperia Animal Control and making posts on Facebook, they found the perfect new home for the ducklings: Apple Valley Animal Hospital. The Ridenours gave the ducklings to the hospital on June 6.
"It's so crazy that we have ducks in the house," Heather said, prior to handing them over.
Keeping the ducklings for four days made it hard to let them go, family members said, but they knew it was the right thing to do if they were going to have a chance of survival.