ADDISON – A curious woman drives past a family of ducks on their way through Addison, watching as the two adult birds cross the street and their babies follow. Suddenly, the ducklings disappear.
One, two, three, four, five. With mom and dad safely ahead of them, each duckling – too small yet for their own luck – plopped through the holes of a sewer grate in the middle of the road.
That’s when Dennis Parrillo, a community service officer with the Addison Police Department, got the familiar call.
While these ducks were indeed stuck, Parrillo knew what to do. He gets requests like these often – injured raccoons and geese, or redtail hawks and groundhogs in trouble.
“Some nice lady happened to be driving by. Talk about luck: ‘I saw seven ducks crossing the street, then saw two ducks left,’” Parrillo recalled. “That timing had to be perfect. ... She was on her way to work, so I didn’t get her name, unfortunately.”
After the reported duckling dive, Parrillo went to work. But he had a problem – he couldn’t get the sewer cover open because it too was stuck.
So on Saturday afternoon, an on-call Bob Greve traveled to South Westwood and West North avenues to help.
“We didn’t hear the little ducklings anymore,” said Parrillo. “I was trying to make some peeping noises; I didn’t know if it’d work or not.”
Greve, who works in the sewer department of Addison Public Works, was able to remove two covers, as the baby ducks were trapped between manholes about 10 feet apart. Their mother was frantic the whole hour-long ordeal, flapping back and forth across the street so much Parrillo had to do a little on-foot traffic control so she wouldn’t get hit by passing cars.
But once the covers were up, getting the ducklings out – finally – was easy.
“[Parrillo] got a net on one end, I tapped the pipe on one end, and they just swam into the net,” Greve said.
They were placed from the net into a nearby pond, where their cooler-headed father already was waiting.
“This is really a nice outcome,” said Parrillo, who has been with the department six years and usually takes injured animals from similar calls to Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn. “I was concerned they were going to take off.”
Nick Graziano of Bloomingdale, who happened to drive through the area during the rescue, stopped to take some pictures and lend a hand.
“He’s an animal guy; we talked for a bit,” Parrillo said. “He pulled over and stayed and offered to help us.”
Parrillo said Greve was great to work with, and, well – Greve is no first-timer with this sort of thing, either. He, along with three other village employees, were honored after the heavy storms in July 2011, when children in the Briar Hill subdivision discovered that baby ducks had been swept down a storm sewer.
Those ducks also were safely returned to their agitated mother.
“It doesn’t happen super often. Since I’ve been here, only two times in seven years,” Greve said. “Now is just the time of year for ducks and geese. People got to look out for them a little bit.”