Karen Eichler and Andrew Spragge were on a walk Monday, enjoying the springlike weather when they turned up in Ashley Place, an alley in the City of Lockport where they normally don't go.
The cries of a duck caught their attention.
"We heard her first," Eichler told The Buffalo News. "She was very, very upset."
Eichler and her husband, who make up the comedy team Defiant Monkey Improv, then heard peeping coming from a storm drain.
"Poor mama was pacing back and forth," Eichler said.
Eichler and Spragge ran back to their home around the corner and called for help. They reached the Niagara County emergency dispatch, who contacted the City of Lockport Fire Department.
Engine 8 was sent to the scene.
"We hurried back with a camera," Eichler said. "This is a YouTube moment."
When the engine pulled up, the mother duck took off, apparently terrified by the noise.
"That truck is loud and big," Eichler said.
Assistant Chief Michael Seeloff arrived with the Engine 8 crew and they peered down the storm drain. "Sure enough, there was a bunch of ducklings," Seeloff recounted.
They pulled the metal grate back and a couple of the ducklings popped out, he said. "We grabbed them," Seeloff said.
As the firefighters held the scared baby ducks in their hands, the firefighters asked Eichler if she could find a box to put the ducklings in.
In the meantime, Seeloff sent Firefighter Richard Gowanlock down into the sewer drain to fish out the rest.
"I sent the rookie down into the sewer," Seeloff said. "I said: Put your boots on and get your butt down there."
One by one, Gowanlock scooped up the ducklings and put them into the box. There were 14 in all.
The mother duck flew back and forth overhead but wouldn't come down.
The firefighters asked Eichler and Spragge to wait with the ducklings to see if the mother came back. If she didn't, they asked them to take the baby ducks to the SPCA. They agreed.
After the fire truck left, the mother duck came down to the yard of a house nearby.
Eichler brought the box closer to the yard.
"We tipped them out and they ran over to her," she said. "There were a few strays that ran in the wrong direction."
Neighbors helped get them back in the right direction, and all 14 eventually ended up with the mother duck. They waddled away safely.
"They're all good," Eichler said.
They went home and her husband put together a video montage of the rescue operation and put it on YouTube.
The firefighters saw it and posted it on their Facebook page.
"I was kind of glad seeing the video and the mother duck returned for the ducklings," said Seeloff.