GREAT FALLS – Great Falls Park & Recreation staff rounded up the waterfowl in Gibson Park on Friday.
Dozens of families turned out to see the swans, geese, and ducks taken out of the pond and into their winter quarters.
The birds are kept inside during the winter for their own safety since many have clipped wings.
Darrell Beauchamp and his 2-year old granddaughter Avery showed up ahead of the crowd to enjoy a quiet morning before the roundup began. “She likes the ducks a lot,” says Beauchamp, “She calls them ‘duck duck’ and tries to call them to her.”
At 10:30 a.m. a small contingent of park workers put on their waders and picked up their rakes and walked through the water of Gibson Pond, nudging the flightless fowl toward a pen on the other side.
“Usually it’s the lower seniority and seasonal guys that get in the pond,” chuckled Parks Manager Lonnie Dalke.
The group made quick work and after just a few minutes in the water all the city waterfowl had been herded to their pen and all the wild birds flew away to freedom.
Now the city’s flock is safe and warm in their winter housing on the far edge of the park in a building lovingly known as the “Honker Hilton.”
“We have a couple ponds in there plus a fenced area you where they’ll spend the winter and we take care of them daily,” says Dalke.
This is where our feathered friends will stay until their return to the pond in April.
Reporting by Joe Huisinga for MTN News