Ducklings: Smarter than We Thought?
Ten days ago, we knew nothing about raising ducklings. Then someone pranked my husband, Curtis, by putting over 200 rubber ducks in his office.
When he walked into the office, he played along — and that’s when he heard the cheeping.
“Oh, you put real ducks in here too?! Whose are they?”
“No, really. Whose are they?”
And just like that, we became the proud owners of four ducks: two Pekin, one Khaki Campbell, and one Black Swedish.
We brought them home in a big cardboard box and spent the rest of the evening watching their antics. It was better than TV (if you don’t believe me, you can watch them yourself on Accidental Farm, the YouTube channel that I started for them. Yes, acquiring animals is my hobby. Yes, I should get a cheaper hobby).
They step into their water bowl when they’re trying to drink, climb all over each other in their frenzy to be first to the food bowl, and run in circles squawking loudly when they get caught alone. They also poop on you if you hold them for more than a few minutes, make their bedtime bin dirty in the first five seconds, and drink water constantly.
3 life lessons I’ve learned from watching ducklings
But overall, they’re remarkably endearing.
And, surprisingly, even though they’re not all that bright, they have some remarkably intelligent habits.
1. There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother
I read that ducklings aren’t supposed to be raised alone, and after 10 days, I know why. Our little pack is never more than a few feet apart at all times — and if one of them wanders away from the other three, they scream and squawk and cry out until they’re reunited.
It’s an excellent safety mechanism, especially with our four cats and two dogs always on the curious, hungry prowl. Even if I’m inside, I can hear the ducks screaming when they’re afraid.
Life lesson: It’s good to stick close to the people that matter to you. They can help you.
2. Always be grateful to your host
I feed the ducklings twice a day, and it didn’t take them long to learn the routine. After bringing their bin out of the garage in the mornings, I get a handful of food from the garage and fill the bowl with water, then bring it back out.
The ducklings follow me the whole time. They get caught underfoot, run ahead, and chirp loudly. As I lower the bowl of food to the middle of their circle, they frantically bob their heads and knock the rim of the bowl. The moment the bowl is within beak-reach, they dig their heads into it and slurp up the soggy food.
I have never prepared food for such a grateful crowd.
Life lesson: Exercise consistent, sincere gratitude. People notice.
3. Keep yourself clean and try new things
Rudimentary as this may sound, it’s really timeless advice. The ducklings scatter drips of food on themselves as they eat, and by the time they’re done, they’re sloppy, wet, and covered in duck meal. But then they preen — and 15 minutes later, you’d never know they were just standing in a bowl of mushy slop, gobbling their brains out.
To make up for the ducklings’ messy eating habits, they are an easy crowd to please. Every few days I feed them a new kind of vegetable, and they’re always eager to try it. Sometimes they like it and gulp more down, sometimes they spit it right out. But they always try everything.
Perhaps it’s a stretch — but I’m willing to say there’s a lot we can learn from ducklings. Maybe ‘birdbrain’ isn’t the worst insult after all.