Little shits couldn't wait til I got home from work :(
I got an elated phone call mid-afternoon from Les. He awoke to frantic peeps, slipped outside to find that almost all of them had dropped off the porch already...grabbed the camera and got as many shots as he could. Momma left the porch, and all but one of the little guys followed her in short order. The last little guy had trouble getting out of the litterbox, so Les helped him as uninvasively as he could, picked him up ever-so-carefully and nudged him toward the edge, where he finally found the courage to drop. He then proceeded to wander completely around one of the HVAC units before hearing his momma's quacks and scurrying over to her.
We originally thought there were 17; now it's looking like 15. Nature may have already taken a few, but we're determined to believe that Norbert lived (yes, we named him...what of it?) and is the straggler in the pack. We just spent some more time on the porch watching the little guys below. They hung out on our neighbor's porch, where 2 mallards are regulars...the momma, all the babies, another probable female, and a big male. The other female's a bit mean, so after awhile, the momma took her little ones away. That really struck me, because they're all trucking along, as fast as their little legs will take them, but Norbert (hopefully) was just a bit slower than the others, so he'd plop down, let out about 3 big peeps to say "wait up!", and momma would turn and stop and wait for him to catch up. Did that a couple of times.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go budget for the next 11 months, so we can get the f**k out of this apartment and onto my little patch of land...stirred such feeling in me, seeing life begin so close...