Animals are truly amazing and the more we learn about them, the more amazing they become in our eyes. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about the intelligence of an elephant, the kindness of a dog or the intuition of a bird, it is something that is well worth our attention. It helps us to understand more about the planet where we live and to appreciate the fact that it is a home that is well worth maintaining. In fact, some people will even spend their entire lives focused on one particular animal and they still don’t learn everything that there is to learn about them.
That brings us to researchers from the Loon Project. They were at Long Lake, Wisconsin in mid-June and really didn’t expect it to be anything out of the ordinary. They were there to observe the birds on the water and to do a little bit of research. That is when they saw a most unusual sight, a mother loon swimming by with her baby on her back. It wouldn’t be all that unusual, but the baby was not a loon, it was a duckling.
The researchers were dumbfounded because they had never seen anything like it. They started to investigate and connected the dots.
The loon couple had a baby shortly before they adopted the duckling but unfortunately, their first baby didn’t make it. They still had that parental instinct and they wanted to care for an animal so when they saw duckling alone without a family, they accepted him as their own young. Ducklings imprint on the first moving parental figure they see so when the loons took him, the duckling had no problem with it.
“This was a very exciting discovery,” Walter Piper, head of The Loon Project, told The Dodo. “It is a weird one, because my job is to study loons, not loons that raise ducklings! But this event allows us to examine the flexibility of loon behavior and duckling behavior.”
There is a huge difference in how baby ducklings and baby loons are raised. It seems as if the duckling is doing a nice job of adapting to his new lifestyle. He even will dive down to the bottom of the lake to get food, something that most ducks won’t do. They also eat different foods but the duckling is doing well, content with what he has.
We don’t know what will eventually happen to the duckling but one thing is certain, he is living a good life for now. The fact that he was adopted by a loon couple who lost their baby is an example of just how wonderful the animals around us can be.
Source: The DoDo