Nest Egg At Treasury

The Secret Service, 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 with white markings, has had several names suggested by Treasury Department people, including "Quacks Reform," "T-Bill," and "Duck Cheney." It has

on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The duck apparently arrived April 2 or April 3, and was first noticed on Monday, April 4.

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.

"She's sort of pulled up the mulch around her, so she looks sort of like an extension of the mulch pile. She's doing a really good job of being as camouflaged as she can be in this situation," Craig Tufts, the National Wildlife Federation's chief naturalist, tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

Washington's peaking Cherry Blossom Festival drew "hundreds and thousands" of people to the duck Sunday, he says, but she's "pretty non-plused," responding mainly to other birds who happen by. "She's sitting pretty tight," Tufts adds.

Smith kidded that no one is sure whether the duck is a Democrat or Republican which, Smith says, is too bad because "then we would know who the real quacks in Washington are."

Treasury Secretary John Snow stopped to pay his respects on the way back from a congressional hearing, Treasury spokesman Rob Nichols says.

"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.