Laurie Wolf, a Florida-based amateur photographer, was out in her backyard when she noticed something unusual. In the end, what appeared to be an owl chick turned out to be a duckling. “Oh, we have an owl chick,” says the narrator. “This is fantastic!” she exclaimed, but this time was different.
Laurie and her husband had put up some birdhouses in their Jupiter, Florida backyard earlier that month. While moving her eggs from one nest to another, she also noticed a duck. But she had no idea why she was doing it at the time. Only to discover that this unlikely pair shares a 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 assumed we had a baby owlet but also kept an eye on the box for the next two hours,” Laurie told the Dodo. “They were just sitting there next to each other. It’s impossible to believe. To this day, I find it hard to believe.”
However, the woman was concerned about the safety of the little duck and attempted to contact an expert. Laurie ultimately decided that the cute duckling should be taken to a local shelter for her own safety. That was unnecessary, as the owl acted as if the strange girl was one of her own. It was then that the woman realized these two have a deeper bond than she could have imagined. “I don’t think I’ll ever have another experience like that in my life,” she stated.
Laurie and her husband witnessed the duckling jumping out of the box a few days later. Because the wood ducklings leave the nest in less than 24 hours after hatching, this is a completely natural occurrence. “We assume it heard them because it jumped out of the box and dashed for our back fence and our neighbor’s yard, where there’s a pond and we’ve seen adult wood ducks,” the woman explained.
But what’s even more fascinating is that the owl incubated the duck egg as if it were her own. “It’s not well-documented, but it does happen,” said Christian Artuso, Manitoba director of Bird Studies Canada. He also mentioned that it’s not uncommon for a wood duck to lay her eggs in another’s nest.
“Think of it this way: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you spread your eggs out, you have a slightly better chance of passing on your genes, especially if you lose your own eggs to a predator,” the expert explained. “We know it happens, but we have no idea how often it happens. So seeing another example of this made me happy.”