CAPITAL DUCKLINGS IN HATCH ACT

It was a scene straight out of ``Make Way for Ducklings:'' a mother mallard and nine just-hatched ducklings marching single-file across busy Sixth Street within sight of the Capitol building to their new home. The mother mallard had spent the past month atop a nest just outside the child-care center of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Hours after her nine little ones pecked their way out of their shells their mother, true to her instinct, headed for water - a fountain on a tiny traffic island, across busy Sixth Street from the FTC.

One after another the ducklings scrambled up the high curb on the far side of the street, as their mother quacked encouragement. But the hurdle seemed insurmountable for the last one, the littlest, who kept tipping over backward. He finally succeeded after persevering time and again - a lesson to all in Washington. Mother mallard then herded her little family under a deep hedge by the fountain's edge, where they now are in residence, hidden from prying eyes.

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