A month long wait was rewarded Monday (May 4) when 12 of 13 eggs hatched from a mallard duck dubbed Ivy, who chose to nest in the ivy at the base of the columns in front of the MTSU Honors College.
After finding Ivy and the eggs were protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, the college summoned campus police to rope off the area with yellow tape. Suitable warning signs were posted to keep well-wishing bystanders, some of who had thought the mother was in distress, away and at a safe distance.
Ivy timed her ducklings' arrival to correspond with MTSU final exams for the spring semester, reducing the normal flow of students into the college's Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building.
She also chose a day in which the honors bells twice tolled for students who had successfully defended their theses.
By the afternoon of their hatching, their mother was leading them across campus to a bigger pond, where they could meet their father and from whence it is hoped they will grow into adulthood and fly south for the winter, spreading the news of the Honors College.
Ivy thus got a jump on graduation, which is not scheduled until Saturday, May 9, when commencement ceremonies will be held at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. in Murphy Center. (Visit http://www.mtsunews.com/graduation-info/ for more graduation details.)
The hatching also corresponded with the announcement of the naming of the brood, the honor (and a $50 award) of which went to Honors College student Kyeesha Wilcox, who chose to name the ducks after the eight virtues listed on the building and others related to them. Wilcox is a freshman global studies major from Smyrna, Tennessee.
The ducklings' names and their associated virtues include:
• Valliant, for integrity.
• Harper, for creativity.
• River, for creativity.
• Emery, for an industrious leader.
• Jasper, for a keeper of treasure.
• Spirit, for faith and spirituality.
• Sage, or wise one.
• Alina, for light.
• Irie, for blessing or favor.
• Cleo, related to glory and pride.
• Hudson, for humanity, knowledge and creative ability.
Jada, for knowing, peace and harmony.
The second-place suggestions came from Colby Denton, who named the ducklings Mallory (mallard duck), Dabble (dabbling duck), Muscy (Mucovy duck), Mergie (merganser duck), Woody (common wood duck), Drake (male duck), Waddles, Quackers, Trumpet, Preena (after preening), Peck and Loona (common loon).
Denton, who is from Georgetown, Tennessee, is a junior advertising/public relations major in the College of Mass Communication.
Three students tied for third place. They include:
• Samuel Hulsey, a senior Spanish and global studies major from Lebanon, Tennessee. He named the ducklings for individuals known for one or more quackery ideas that nonetheless contributed to human progress. His suggestions included Ptolemy, Miasma, Hubble, Perimutter, Schmidt, Riess, Rush, Colon, Vulcan, Aristotle, Franz and Halley;
• Gabrielle Armour, a sophomore organismal and ecology biology major from Pleasant Shade, Tennessee. She sought identification with the mother duck by naming them after Ivy League-type schools: Harvey (Harvard), Stan (Stanford), George (Georgetown), Prince (Princeton), Penny (University of Pennsylvania), Andrew (St. Andrews), Camila (Cambridge), Ford (Oxford), Virginia (University of Virginia), Duke (Duke University), John (Johns Hopkins), and Northwest (Northwestern); and
• Angelica Bennett, a freshman graphic design major from Nolensville, Tennessee. She also played off the mother's name by looking for related flora. Her suggestions included Daisy, Snapdragon, Daffodil, Tulip, Vine, Blossom, Lily, Aster, Rosie, Viburnum, Orchid and Buttercup.
The Honors College Facebook site features a number of webcams of the ducklings. For those interested, a group of ducklings is known as a "safe" when on land and a "raft" when on water.