Important bird news for you guys – an owl has taken a duckling under its wing (sorry).
Wildlife photographer Laurie Wolf (which is a bloody fantastic name for a wildlife photographer) snapped the cute duo in Jupiter, Florida recently.
Wolf initially believed that the owl was looking after her own hatchlings, but on closer inspection spotted that it was actually a baby duck.
Speaking to the National Geographic, she said: “The two of them were just sitting side by side. It’s not believable. It’s not believable to me to this day.”
After seeing the pair chilling together, Wolf says at first, she was worried that the owl – a predator – might turn on the duckling, so she contacted a bird expert who told her she was right to be concerned.
In an attempt to keep the bird safe, a local wildlife sanctuary offered to care for the duckling if Wolf could catch it. But just as the photographer and her husband tried to grab the bird, it calmly hopped out the box and sauntered off towards a nearby pond. She says she’s not seen the duckling since.
She added: “I don’t think I’ll ever experience anything like that in my life again.”
Sharing the cute shots on her Facebook page, Wolf wrote: “So, this happened last evening just before dark. UPDATE…a bit later, the baby duck was in the hole by itself, calling for the parents.
“We believe they heard each other because it suddenly left the box and made a beeline for the back fence and our neighbour’s pond where the woodies have been hanging out.
“Also, we had seen a female wood duck – about three or four weeks ago, remove a duck egg from a box that had been raided by something, and fly off toward this box with it. We lost it in the trees and didn’t want to disturb it. But we believe she put it in this box and the owl hatched it.”
Although rare, it’s not unheard of for wood duck birds to lay their eggs in other bird’s nests. Cheeky.
Manitoba director of Bird Studies Canada, Christian Artuso told the National Geographic: “It’s not commonly documented, but it certainly happens.
“You could think of it as not keeping all your eggs in one basket. If you spread your eggs out, then your chances of passing on your genes are increased slightly, especially if you lose your own eggs to a predator.
“We know this occurs, but we really don’t know the frequency, so I was happy to see another example of this.” Me, too, pal – cute, isn’t it?
And, you’ll surely be pleased to know that Artuso reckons the duckling will survive, explaining that wood ducks are pretty independent birds ‘from the get-go’.
So that’s good, isn’t it?