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Dozens of people stood there this Thursday morning, staring intently at the tiny pond in the Plaça del Congrés Eucarístic, right beside the bustling traffic artery of Carrer Felip II, in the built-up neighbourhood of Congrés, in Barcelona. An unusual sight, because this pond is part of a small, anonymous green space that pedestrians pass by, rather than stopping for. The reason was soon seen inside the pond, where a duck was swimming, and in her wake, eleven ducklings that hatched into the world on Wednesday afternoon. Despite the joy of being able to see these birds in the middle of the city, the neighbourhood shares its concern for the survival of the ducklings in the face of the multiple hazards that exist in this urban area. In response to the situation, Barcelona city council has appealed to the public to respect the ducks' space and not disturb them, as well as asking dog owners to take great care.

Off-leash dogs, main danger for ducks

The Guàrdia Urbana cordoned off the pond area on Wednesday afternoon with barrier fences, but unfortunately these do not prevent the ducks from leaving the area nor unleashed dogs from accessing the pond. In fact, the drake - the male parent of the ducklings - already died this Wednesday, allegedly due to a dog attack. Residents are concerned that this situation could be repeated, given that the square is a recreation area for dogs, which are permitted to be off-leash from eight o'clock in the evening. And as well, the pond is next to several urban streets, and it is feared that the ducks could end up being run over if they venture out into the square in search of food.

Local resident Noemí Turrents took the issue to social media, demanding that the district of Sant Andreu - to which the neighbourhood of Congrés i les Indians belongs - take action to protect the ducklings. "We called the Guàrdia Urbana police and they said that it was not an area where they have competency to act", she said. Turrent explained to that a dozen residents of the square have organized themselves in shifts to maintain permanent vigilance over the pond and prevent the ducklings from crossing the street.


City council asks residents to take care with dogs

Sources from Barcelona city council have explained to that "whenever possible, in cases like this, moving the animals is avoided, since moving them causes very high stress and is associated with very high mortality of the offspring". In this regard, they state that at this time of year the birth of ducks is common in different parks around the city, and that when they receive a warning, a specialist goes to the location to make an assessment of the space and determine the best strategy to follow. In the case of the Plaça del Congrés, it is considered that the pond has enough vegetation to act as a shelter for the animals, and therefore the priority would be to keep them in this pond.

Plaça Congres aneguets
The home (see arrow, centre) and neighbourhood of Barcelona's newest duck family / Google Maps 


That is why the city council makes a request to the neighbourhood: "Don't disturb them, don't touch, scare, chase or feed" the ducklings, who within the next few days will be autonomous and will be able to decide whether to change their location in the city. The council asks dog owners to take "special care and sensitivity" - to keep dogs on a leash and prevent them from getting close to the feathered family. "It's a matter of preserving biodiversity, which must coexist with the city's activity," they say.