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Delaware teen earns nickname ‘duck dad’ after taking care of 4 ducks

Jacob Stewart took care of four ducklings after their mother died. He released them to a pond where they wait for him to visit every day.

DELAWARE, Ohio — Whether you've pivoted in your career, found a passion, or completed a long project, many of us have used this time throughout the pandemic to focus on something new.

For a high schooler in Delaware, that something new was a purpose. And he found it at a time he needed it most.

Jacob Stewart found his purpose with six strings and eight wings.

“Purpose doesn't come to you, you have to find it,” he said.

And he found “it” in his front yard, right before summer break.

A nest of eggs. Some of them were broken and nearby, a mother duck had been killed.

Stewart assumed an animal got to the duck and some of the eggs, but he really didn’t know what had happened.

What he did know is that he wanted to care for the eggs that appeared to be OK.

“I saw those eggs and it was almost a calling,” he said.

Stewart borrowed a neighbor's incubator and eventually four of the eight eggs hatched.

"I named them Pluto, Puddle, Milo and Daisy,” he said.

The four little ducks provided a big sense of responsibility. That responsibility of caring for them, providing food and water gave Stewart a sense of purpose at a time he was feeling isolated during the pandemic.

“(It was) pretty much perfect timing,” Stewart said. “I was going through a rough patch and I think taking care of an animal or taking care of anything having any sort of purpose pushes you out of that."

After weeks of caring for them, it was time for them to move on.

Puddle flew away.

“It was terrifying,” said Stewart. “Obviously they're like my kids."

Puddle needed a pond.

After searching for Puddle, Stewart found her unharmed at a pond nearby. “Puddle survived the night and so she was fine on her own,” he said.

She picked the pond her pack would call home. “I released them all there and they've been fine so far,” said Stewart. “I didn't want to keep them forever. I just wanted to keep them for a little bit.”

Stewart visits the pond every day.

“I was nervous that they weren't going to be there when I came back,” he said.

But when they hear his whistle or the music he plays from his guitar, they come right up to him.

“They'll waddle towards me and do their weird chokey quacks,” he explained. “[It’s] an indescribable feeling for sure."

It’s why neighbors call Stewart "the Duck Dad."

“It was like a movie ending,” Stewart said.

And the beginning of a new purpose.

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