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ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

From heroic dogs to a hero for ducks, a regular guy who rescued a nest full of ducklings from certain death.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SEABROOK: You see, Joel Armstrong worked at a bank in downtown Spokane, Washington. Sitting in his office back in May, he noticed an unusual scene, a duck in the awning just outside his second-story window.

Mr. JOEL ARMSTRONG (Bank Worker, Spokane, Washington): I kind of looked and realized that she had built a nest, and then I noticed some eggs in there.

SEABROOK: Armstrong watched and waited until one day the eggs hatched: 10 yellow puffs with beaks. The next day, Armstrong saw the mother duck pacing along the high awning, 10 ducks following her every move.

Mr. ARMSTRONG: And all of a sudden, the mother jumped down to the sidewalk.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. ARMSTRONG: At that moment, I just said, I've got to get down there and help these things. I think they're going to start jumping.

SEABROOK: The first duckling waddled up to the ledge and jumped. It was 10 feet down to the sidewalk. The little duck lay limp. That's when Joel Armstrong leaped into action.

(Soundbite of "Superman" theme)

Mr. ARMSTRONG: So I ran over there, stood under the awning. Another friend stood 40-50 feet away and told me when they were about to jump, and then I'd look up and catch them and then just instantly kind of drop them to the ground, and the mother didn't really seem to care.

SEABROOK: Our duck hero jumped out and caught every single duckling, and the first one he'd seen hit the sidewalk, it sprang back to life.

The next danger was traffic. It was a three-block waddle to the Spokane River, so Armstrong grabbed a cardboard box, collected the ducklings and walked them down the street. He carried the box low so Mamma Duck could see her babies. Finally, they reached the river.

Mr. ARMSTRONG: The mom ran over there. Her ducklings just followed, and then she plopped in the river, and they knew how to swim instantly, and they were so happy, and the mom started doing circles right in front of us, quacking and actually wagging her tail.

SEABROOK: Mild-mannered Joel Armstrong, duck hero. We've got pictures of the great duck rescue at npr.org.

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