Duck ‘hunter’ nabs bird in downtown SV

SUBMITTED PHOTO Bill Mettler holds the community duck as Elaine Horsman looks on.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

A black duck that called Spring Valley Creek in downtown Spring Valley home has found a better home thanks to the combined efforts of Elaine Horsman, Bill Mettler and others in the community.

“It wasn’t really just my duck,” stated Horsman, owner of the cafe in the southeastern block of Spring Valley’s Broadway Avenue businesses near where the duck that had taken up residence more than a year ago. “Everybody took care of the duck. It came when we had all the water, and my husband, David, started feeding it. It got to the point where on days that we weren’t open, he’d have to come downtown to feed his duck. It would come up to his truck when he’d come downtown, so it really was more his duck than anyone else’s.”

With another winter approaching, Horsman decided that it was time to round up said duck and find it a home where it could live without worry of having to knock on her café’s back door for its dinner. She even made a sign offering a $10 reward for catching the duck, provided the duck remained alive.

“We tried getting it out before winter so that it would have a place to live, and the guys from Tracker, the guys from Spring Valley Public Utilities all tried catching it. Springy (Steve Volkart) also had a part in taking care of it – everybody took care of it,” Horsman said.

However, a couple weeks ago, she had some food out on the deck of her business and it just happened to get up there where it couldn’t get out. Mettler also happened to go downtown early for breakfast before a meeting when he noticed the duck on the deck. He was aware people in the community had been trying to catch the duck, so he grabbed it.

“I was just in the right place at the right time,” he said.

His motivation wasn’t for the reward, though. “I didn’t know it (the $10) until after I’d caught the duck,” he said.

Instead, his motivation was for the benefit of the duck. He explained that this would be the second winter that the duck would have to spend paddling about in the river behind the café and that Horsman didn’t want to see it freeze its feet again, as it had suffered some frostbite this past winter.

“Elaine wanted it caught, and I thought that was a good idea,” Mettler said. “It was there last year, and we’d seen it off and on the last few months. Somewhere along the line, it had frozen its feet off, and Elaine didn’t want to see it freeze its feet off again.”

After Mettler’s successful capture, the community duck got to tour Elaine’s Café and Mettler Chiropractic.

“I brought it into the café to show the guys who were trying to catch it, and then I took it to show my staff at our office,” Mettler said.

It’s uncertain why the duck made its way to Spring Valley Creek to settle down. With the red markings on the face, it appears to be a Muscovy duck. The wild Muscovy duck has its home in the American tropics, but domesticated, or barnyard, ducks are seen in North America.

Although the duck found an adequate home for a while under the care of various members of the community, it now has a permanent home in a pen at the home of Matt Jacobson who decided he wanted it for his son.