- The Washington Times - Monday, April 17, 2006

Ritz-Carlton hotels are known for attracting celebrities and VIPs, but this month the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown has a VID — or Very Important Duck.

For the second year in a row, a female mallard has made her nest near the ritzy hotel.

“Children have called her by many names,” said Carol Godwin, a hotel spokeswoman. “But most people just call her Mother Duck.”

The mother duck is sitting on 11 eggs in a planter box at 3100 South St. NW under the 24-hour watch of the concierge desk. Hotel security checks on the nest every two hours when they make their rounds, she said.

“She is not really bothered by the guests. She is in a really discreet location, but her nest can be seen by guests through a window,” Miss Godwin said. “She has padded the nest with lots of duck down.”

Last year, the light-brown duck sat on 10 eggs.

Scientists say anas platyrhynchos — the waterfowl’s scientific name — prefer to nest in marshy areas near bodies of water.

For Mama Duck, the Potomac River is just a block away, but so is the busy intersection of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue should she want to do some shopping.

The four-star hotel is not feeding its special guest, leaving her to find what she can in the neighborhood. And the chef at the hotel’s Fahrenheit Restaurant has removed the duck breast entree from the menu.

The nest was first spotted at 7 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day by Bernard Jordan, a hotel employee, so hotel workers speculate that their ducky visitor might be Irish, Miss Godwin said.

The hotel is wasting no time promoting its celebrity guest.

Bartenders at Degrees, the hotel’s bar, have created a special cocktail called the “Duck Duck Goose” with Grey Goose L’Orange vodka, pineapple juice, a splash of Grenadine and a splash of Sprite.

Hotel guests now get a small Ritz-Carlton rubber ducky at evening turn down, and the hotel has set up an “Everything’s Just Ducky” package that will be available until April 30. The deal includes a room, Duck Duck Goose cocktails upon arrival and a traditional butler-drawn bubble bath with a rubber ducky. Guests also will be served chocolate milk and homemade cookies. The cost is $1,049 per night.

A naming contest for the ducklings will be held for third-graders at Our Lady of Victory School in the District after the children get back from spring break. The children with the winning entries will get a complimentary Sunday lunch at the Fahrenheit Restaurant with their families.

Word that Ritz-Carlton hotels are the place to stay seems to be spreading among waterfowl. A mallard named Molly has been going back to the Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis every year for the past six years.

“It’s just kind of a one-duck phenomenon — it comes every year with its husband, hatches its eggs and goes on its way,” said Mary Gresick, a hotel spokeswoman.

As for Mama Duck in Georgetown, she sits on the nest for about 28 days — so the first eggs could hatch soon.

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