When duty quacks, the Portland police are there.

Two officers rescued a brood of ducklings from a sewer grate on Cumberland Avenue on Thursday morning, the department said in a Facebook post.

Police wrote that they could not find momma duck, so the babies were packed into a cardboard box and taken to Avian Haven, a wild bird rehabilitation center in Freedom.

Kim Chavez, an employee at Avian Haven, said Friday that after she received the ducklings, she heard from the Portland animal control officer, who was unavailable to take the call initially.

“Mom had stepped off the curb and the ducklings fell in,” Chavez said. “Mom was actually there for most of the day looking for the babies.”

But reuniting the tiny, quacking fluff balls seemed unfeasible, she said.

“At this point they had endured the two-hour journey up (to Freedom) and I didn’t think there was any point in trying to send them back the two hours, and honestly as heartbreaking as it is, mom will try again. I was very glad they rescued them but also sad they weren’t given back to their mom.”

Chavez said that mallards can have two clutches of babies a year if they start early enough, so it’s possible mom could lay another dozen or so eggs before the end of the summer.

Now, the ducklings are safely housed in an enclosure with a heat lamp, plenty of food, and a small, gradual pool where they can paddle around and get used to the water, she said.

If all goes swimmingly, Chavez said the birds will likely be released back into the wild this August.

None of the ducklings will be given names, she said.

“It helps remind you that they are wild birds and they do have a greater destiny than being stuck here in a cage,” Chavez said.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

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Twitter: MattByrnePPH