WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Security is tight in front of the White House for a new resident — a Mallard hen sitting on nine eggs she laid at the foot of a sapling over the weekend.
The mother duck chose for her nest a fresh heap of mulch on the sidewalk outside the heavily guarded entrance of the Treasury Department, next door to the presidential residence.
Secret Service officers have erected metal stanchions around the tree to shield the incubating bird from passersby on the crowded pedestrian plaza in the heart of the U.S. capital.
The Pennsylvania Avenue fowl’s reputation has grown, and it was featured on a national morning television show on Friday.
“I’m getting more calls on this than on the Chinese currency,” Treasury spokesman Rob Nichols said.
Treasury staff have dubbed the bird “T-bill”, “Duck Cheney”, and “Quacks Reform”, Nichols said.
Treasury Secretary John Snow, who “had been briefed on the duck”, paused to pay it a visit after testifying before Congress on Thursday, the spokesman added.
The mallard chicks are expected to hatch at the end of the month.
UPDATE: The ducks hatched on April 30. On May 1, government biologists captured them, and the Secret Service took them to Rock Creek Park, where we hope they will be very happy. It is not known whether the stay at the Treasury Department gave Mrs. Duck the idea to invest in T-Bills….