A female mallard, whom Banks assumed was the mother duck, was circling nervously, her babies too far out of reach for her to save them.
"I was able to reach in and pluck the first two out pretty easily," Banks tells The Dodo, "but the mama duck kept flying in my face, so I asked my roommate to help me keep her back while I got the rest out."
Banks quickly learned that this was not going to be an easy job. The pipe was about 20 inches deep and quite narrow, so she kept getting her arm stuck. She even had bruises the next day. So her next idea was to construct a makeshift lasso out of yarn to haul out the remaining ducklings.
Unfortunately, the yarn trick didn't quite work.
"It kept getting stuck to the side of the pipe so I gave up on that," Banks says. "Occasionally, one duckling would pop its head up to bite me. The last two were too far down to grab and kept going down the other end of the pipe. They were very cold and wet so I was doing my best to work quickly."
The apartment complex's manager and a maintenance worker came to help, using a claw-like plumbing tool to fish the ducklings out. When that didn't succeed either, they eventually decided to give up, with two ducklings still trapped.
But Banks persisted. She finally found a strategy that worked: splashing water into the pipe, waiting for the ducklings to pop their heads out and then scooping them out with a pair of plastic tongs.
And then, finally, all seven ducklings were free.