BRADENTON — There are 12 new residents at Casa Mora Rehabilitation and Extended Care.
Unlike the majority of the nursing home’s 165 residents, they are quite young.
Try three weeks.
“They are the cutest, too,” said Sylvia Kruse, the assistant administrator, Thursday.
Meet Casa Mora’s darling Mallard ducklings, who have the run of the facility’s courtyard and garden these days.
Just don’t touch or get too close.
“We want them as wild as possible,” said Kathy Thomas, the recreation director. “So when they’re ready to leave here, they can.”
Their arrival was a pleasant surprise.
Staffers said two adult mallards, presumably a drake and a hen, were hanging around Casa Mora’s entrance more than a month ago.
Checking out the facility for family, perhaps?
Then the hen flew into the courtyard and took up residence under a hibiscus bush.
“So we’re working in the garden one day and all of a sudden we start seeing ducklings,” Thomas said. “We started counting them and we had an even dozen.”
A blessing for a couple of reasons.
First, it was a good place for them.
“In the wild, who knows what happens?” Kruse said. “They know they’re safe. Those guys got one smart mama.”
It’s also good for the residents.
“Everybody has a ball watching them,” said Jim Murray, 63, from his wheelchair. “They stop thinking about their problems, which is nice. They need something to keep their minds off their ailments. Me, too.”
Gardener Jim Slack feeds them store bought duck food, and residents do little things to make the ducklings stay as comfy as possible.
“One resident put up a plank for them to get into the kiddie pool,” Kruse said. “It’s hilarious watching them.”
According to Ducks Unlimited, mallards should begin flying at two months.
Until then, said a Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation official, “Just leave them be and let Mother Nature do her thing.”
Exactly Casa Mora’s plan.
“Next year maybe some of the females may say, ‘Hey, lets go back to Casa Mora. That worked out real good for us,’” Kruse joked.
“We may be onto something here.”