OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Melchizeduck was an overnight star, and her life was featured on CNN, two local television stations and Christian radio.
Since mid-April, streaming Web video followed the movements of the little mallard who religiously sat on her nest next to Blue Valley Baptist Church in Overland Park, a Kansas City suburb. She even had her own Facebook page.
But this week, all the excited anticipation ended ominously on the day after Mother's Day.
Mel, as her Facebook fans call her, covered her eggs Monday morning as she routinely does when she goes for a meal or a stroll — and never returned.
On Tuesday, Pastor Derrick Lynch carefully boxed the 10 eggs and took them to Operation Wildlife staffers, who put them in an incubator. There are embryos in the eggs, and they might hatch, said Operation Wildlife director Diane Johnson.
As for Mel, Johnson said, "something probably happened to her. I can't imagine her up and leaving them."
With nothing left to watch but feathers and an empty nest, the streaming video set up by a staff member when Mel arrived was shut down. But the worry from Mel's Facebook friends ratcheted up.
Facebook comments ranged from religious references to whether the daddy duck would return to her life to "Oh Mel, where art thou" and "Melodramatic."
Since Mel's arrival, hits on the church website went from a one-day high of 300 to more than 2,200, Lynch said. The church even sold 80 T-shirts featuring Mel, some to people from as far away as Maine, he said.
"This duck has been a popular little dude," Lynch said.
A watcher last saw Mel on the nest about 1 a.m. Monday, and other watchers reported her gone about 6 a.m.
There were reported recent sightings of a feral cat and possibly a coyote, he said, and Mel could have been scared away.
Before long, Lynch said, "people began to panic, and they called our office."
It was the end of an unlikely episode that began last month after Lynch discovered the duck nest outside his office.
And just as church members were inspired by Mel's arrival, they also found meaning in her departure. One Facebook posting titled "What God Can Teach Us Through A Duck" had this comment: "That there is good in the world, and that we can believe and a sweet little duck named Mel taught us to smile and love and that life goes on."