- The Washington Times - Monday, April 24, 2006

The light-brown female mallard who has taken up residence at the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown is officially a mom.

The 11 eggs Mother Duck has been sitting on since late last month began hatching at 4:30 a.m. yesterday. The nest is in a planter just outside the hotel at 3100 South St. NW.

Mother Duck “usually goes to lunch with her husband everyday,” said Nancy Powell, a resident who watched the eggs hatch all day with her daughter. “But today, she hasn’t left [the nest] at all.”

Ms. Powell was part of a small group of hotel guests, staff and other visitors that gathered at a window in the hotel that faces the nest to watch the eggs hatch. Some ordered room service and requested their meals be delivered to their seats at the window throughout the day so they would not risk losing their spot and miss the ducklings come out of their shells.

Since yesterday, Mother Duck has been getting the red carpet treatment — literally.

The hotel staff rolled out a red carpet that stretches from her nest in the planter to the sidewalk and placed a stanchion to keep pedestrians away, Mrs. Powell said.

The hotel staff affectionately called the mother mallard “Mother Duck.” She also has been guarded 24 hours a day by the watchful concierge desk security officers since her nest was found by an employee on St. Patrick’s Day, leading the staff to speculate that the ducks might be Irish.

“We don’t know what an Irish quack sounds like,” said Carol Godwin, a spokeswoman for the hotel. “[But] I did hear that the father had a green strip around his neck.”

The ducklings will be named by third-grade students at Our Lady of Victory School in Northwest.

The names will be judged by the hotel’s general manager, the concierge staff and the security guards who have been checking on the nest.

The winners will receive a free Sunday lunch for their families at the hotel’s Fahrenheit Restaurant.

Meanwhile, the mother and father ducks will have to find food for the ducklings, because neither the hotel staff nor the guests feed them.

Some say that Mother Duck will soon take her ducklings out for their first swim in the Potomac River, about a block away.

“Only Mother Nature knows when she will take them down to the river,” Ms. Godwin said.

Last year, a duck sat on 10 eggs outside the same hotel, and all of those eggs hatched. No one could say for sure, however, whether it was the same Mother Duck.

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