Owl mistakes duck egg for its own – ends up raising it

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Laurie Wolf, an amateur photographer from Florida was in her backyard when spotted something really unlikely. And what it seemed to be an owl chick proved a duckling in the end.  “Oh, we have an owl chick. This is wonderful!,” she reacted, but this were a little bit different.

Earlier that month, Laurie and her husband have placed some birdhouses around their backyard in Jupiter, Florida. She also spotted a duck while moving one of its eggs from a nest to another. Little did she knew back then, why she’s doing that. Only to find out this unlikely pair sharing the same nesting box.

“I had seen something fuzzy disappear from the hole of this particular box, around 4 p.m. that day, so I not only thought we had a baby owlet but also kept an eye on the box for the next two hours, when suddenly the owl and duckling appeared together in the doorway,” Laurie told the Dodo. “The two of them were just sitting there side by side. It’s not believable. It’s not believable to me to this day.”

But the woman was concerned about the little duck’s safety, so she tried to reach out an expert. In the end, Laurie decided it’s better for the cute duckling to be moved to a local shelter, for her own safety. Turned out that was unnecessary as the owl acted like the unusual chick was one of her own. It’s when the woman realized these two share  a more special relationship that  she would have ever thought. “I don’t think I’ll ever experience anything like that in my life again,” she said.

A couple of days after,  Laurie and her husband have seen the duckling jumping out of the box. An absolutely natural thing, since the wood ducklings are leaving the nest in less then 24 hours after the hatch. “We assume it heard them because it suddenly jumped from the box and made a beeline for our back fence and our neighbor’s yard where there’s a pond and the adult wood ducks have been seen by us” the woman said.

However, what’s even more fascinating is that the owl actually incubated the duck egg just as it was her own. “It’s not commonly documented, but it certainly happens,”  Christian Artuso, the Manitoba director of Bird Studies Canada, said. He also added that’s  pretty usual for a wood duck to spread her eggs in someone else’s nest.

“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,” the expert said. “We know this occurs, but we really don’t know the frequency. So I was happy to see another example of this.