SYRACUSE Traffic stopped on Valley Drive as eight white, fluffy ducks waddled across. One stopped mid-way, looked both ways, and turned around, heading back to the east side of the street lined with homes.
No horns honked, traffic stopped and waited. A garbage truck up ahead crossed the road to hold back cars until all of the ducks were out of harm’s way.
It’s the norm for this part of the road that leads to Webster Duck Pond. The eight are a few of the two dozen domesticated ducks at the pond in Syracuse’s Valley. They join another five to six dozen ducks, birds and geese who come by the pond to be fed each day. One swan, a mute named “Swanee” was donated by an Oswego resident after the pond’s resident swan, Lilly, was hit and killed by a car last year.
“They each have their own personality,” said Chad Norton, the first vice president of the Angler’s Association. Norton is there every day, day-in, day-out, to take care of the waterfowl.
“We’re basically like rangers down here,” he said. He and his father, Bill, are the main caretakers of the pond. They provide corn to feed the ducks and geese, accepting donations for each cup. Each day, the Nortons make sure the waterfowl are all physically OK and safe in the winged refuge they like to call “nature’s best kept secret.”
“This is the only spot in the city where people can do something like this,” Chad said. “It’s cheap entertainment, and people love animals.”
The pond is assisted by the city Parks and Recreation department. But as far as the daily operations, it’s all up to the Nortons and the park’s board of directors.
“We decided a few years ago we were going to pay back to the community,” Bill said. “Over the years, we’ve improved the pond every year.”