New brood of MTSU Honors ducklings earn their earl...

New brood of MTSU Honors ducklings earn their early ‘Independence Day’

A second brood of mallard ducklings raised in an ivy-covered nest outside MTSU’s Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building apparently gained their independence a day before the nation celebrated its most patriotic holiday.

This young flock’s mother was far less visible among the growing ivy outside the University Honors College facility than her predecessor, “Ivy,” who hatched 12 ducklings May 4. The newest resident, dubbed “Ivy II” by her admirers, rarely left her nest, which had appeared to contain five or six eggs.

Ivy II sits on her nest recently outside the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building on the east side of the MTSU campus. The ivy growing on the ground has become a secluded location for mother ducks to nest. (MTSU photo by Marsha Powers)

“Ivy II” sits on her nest outside the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building on the east side of the MTSU campus. The ivy on the ground outside the University Honors College facility has created a secluded location for nesting hens. (MTSU photo courtesy of Marsha Powers)

Although occupants and friends of the University Honors College had been observing the nest regularly and were eagerly awaiting their arrival, the ducklings apparently chose to fledge July 3, when the university was closed for the Independence Day holiday.

When observers checked the nest again July 4, they were nowhere to be found.

“The ducklings were eager for their independence and wanted to celebrate the holiday early,” Honors College Dean John Vile said, speculating with a smile on the latest flock’s departure.

Dr. John Vile

Dr. John Vile

Vile, a Constitutional law scholar, noted that President John Adams once anticipated the nation would celebrate its independence July 2, when Congress first adopted Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for independence, rather than July 4, when it approved the actual document.

The dean joked that the ducklings’ mother apparently chose to split the difference in the historic dates. By choosing a day when the university was closed, the brood not only eluded undue publicity, they also had less traffic to dodge on their way to a nearby retaining pond.

Although disappointed that he, fellow staff members, students and others weren’t able to observe this celebration of red, white and True Blue duck independence, Vile expressed pride in the ducklings’ patriotism, noting that they’re the second graduating class of ducklings to leave the Honors College for the larger world.

Vile added that since the mallards are migratory creatures, he hopes that they’ll help spread word of the college’s hospitality to their web-footed friends throughout the Southeast.

— Randy Weiler (

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