The River Forest Police Department made an adorable rescue May 6 after receiving reports of a lost duckling stranded in a sewer. The baby bird was out on a family stroll when it waddled its way into danger. While following its mother and siblings, the tiny duckling fell through a storm grate in the 800 block of Keystone Avenue in River Forest.

A rescue team of four officers were dispatched to the scene at 4:23 p.m. to extract the duckling, now affectionately named Tater, from its precarious position. After the sewer cover proved too heavy to lift, despite Corporal Dan Humphrey’s considerable brawn, the officers devised a new plan on the fly.

Officers next utilized a Halligan bar, a firefighting tool used to force entry into buildings. The long bar was lowered to Tater through the grate openings but were unable to retrieve the duck.

Rather than abandon the mission and the duckling to its watery fate, the officers developed a rescue device, combining the Halligan and a loose fabric sack, and explained the new plan to Tater. The device was lowered through the storm grate.

Duck Rescue Team

Officer Denisse Zermeno guided Tater into the device, then the duckling was raised out of the sewer to safety by Officer Anthony Cortes. Tater was then wrapped in a towel by Officer Megan Drake, who comforted the little bird with a smile.

Tater’s journey did not end there, nor did his time with the River Forest Police Department. He was first transported to the Trailside Museum of Natural History, an education center run by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The museum does not  

The museum was unable to care for the duckling, however, and after it was determined impossible to reunify the bird with its family, Commander James Greenwood secured a spot for Tater at Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn. Due to it being after hours, Tater could not be admitted to the shelter until the next morning.

Understanding that the bird was was no jailbird, Greenwood took temporary custody of Tater. The duckling stayed the night in the commander’s home, otherwise known as “The Greenwood Home for Wayward Ducks.”

The following morning, Greenwood delivered the duckling to Willowbrook Wildlife Center, where Tater will be grouped up with other ducklings until their flock is mature enough to be released back into the wild.

While Tater will surely be missed, River Forest police can rejoice in the success of the rescue mission, knowing that they saved the life of one little duckling.

“It’s the little things that keep us going,” said Greenwood. “And sometimes it’s just a little duck.”

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