WASHINGTON – The Secret Service (search), which has the job of guarding the president and other dignitaries, now has a new temporary duty — protecting a mother duck and her nine eggs.
The duck, a brown mallard (search) with white markings, has had several names suggested by Treasury Department (search) people, including "Quacks Reform," "T-Bill," and "Duck Cheney." It has built a nest in a mulch pile right at the main entrance to the Treasury Department on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The Secret Service's uniformed division, which provides protection for the White House and Treasury building, has set up metal guard rails to protect the nest, which has attracted the notice of tourists on their way to see the White House.
The duck has been provided with a water bowl and seems oblivious to all the attention, sitting calmly on its nest on top of the mulch pile that surrounds one of the new trees planted along Pennsylvania Avenue as part of a renovation project.
Treasury Secretary John Snow (search) stopped to pay his respects this week on the way back from a congressional hearing, Treasury spokesman Rob Nichols said Friday.
"He had been briefed on the duck and he stopped to pay a visit," said Nichols.
The eggs are expected to hatch the last week of April at which time the duck will be relocated nearer water. But until then, the duck will occupy some of Washington's prime real estate.
"Foreign leaders, members of Congress, everybody who visits Treasury has to pass by the duck," Nichols said.