YouTube poster Matthew Sargent‘s neighbor Rick found 13 abandoned duck eggs, already cool after being without their mother for five or six hours. By Rick’s description of “feathers everywhere,” we can assume that their mother was killed by a predator or hunter.
Rick rescued the eggs and put them in an incubator to keep warm in the mother duck’s absence. After the ducklings hatched, they imprinted on Rick and now follow him everywhere like a magnet. It’s pretty cute, but he has his work cut out for him now!
When ducklings (or goslings) hatch, they become attached to the first moving object they see, recognizing it as their mother and identifying themselves as members of that species. Rick’s ducklings will likely prefer a human’s sight and smell over another duck’s for the rest of their lives.
Experienced bird rescuers such as those involved with the Condor Re-Introduction and Recovery Program, use hand puppets shaped like adult birds’ heads so hatchlings will imprint on the appropriate species and will have a better chance adjusting when eventually released into the wild.
Image source: Alexey Gomankov/Wikimedia Commons