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Chicken Hatches A Duck And No One Knows Where He Came From

The Dodo logo The Dodo 1/23/2021 Lily Feinn

a cat eating from a bowl A mother’s love knows no bounds. That’s what a little lost duckling learned when he was born into a family of chickens.

It all started when Courtney Sugarman and her husband Caleb were looking for a new hobby to fill their time during the spring. The animal lovers decided to expand their family by adopting six ducks and three fluffy silkie chickens. a bird standing on a beach © Courtney Sugarman The chickens and the ducks mostly kept to themselves until mid-November, when Courtney Sugarman spotted one of her chickens sitting on a duck egg. She had no idea how the chicken had found it. “We naively thought that nothing could happen,” Sugarman told The Dodo. “So we just let the broody hen be.” 

Soon after, the hen laid seven eggs of her own and continued to sit on all eight of them. “We let her and the eggs stay out in the coop and, to be honest, I still wasn't convinced that any of the eggs would hatch,” Sugarman said. “Then, [in December], I checked under the mama and she had hatched one of the chicken eggs.”  a bird sitting on top of a chicken © Courtney Sugarman The Sugarmans brought the mama, her new chick and the rest of the eggs inside to protect them from the Vermont winter chill. And in the cozy environment, more and more chickens started to hatch. 

Then something remarkable happened: “About an hour later, we noticed a duck beak coming out from under her!” Sugarman said.

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The little duckling immediately imprinted on the mama hen, and the hen didn’t seem to notice a difference between the yellow duckling and her other fluffy, white babies. According to Sugarman, she “treated the duckling just like the other chicks.”

Of course, to anyone else, the difference is obvious — especially as the duck began to grow ... a bird sitting on top of a chicken © Courtney Sugarman … and grow. a woman holding a stuffed animal © Courtney Sugarman But the duckling still thinks he's just one of the flock. “It acts as if it's just a big chick,” Sugarman said. “The duckling grows much faster than the chicks so it outgrew Mama pretty quickly but that didn't really change anything.” 

“The duck would still try to lay under Mama even though it didn't fit,” Sugarman added. a close up of a chicken © Courtney Sugarman Eventually, the mama hen was moved back out to the coop when she became restless inside. But that hasn’t altered anything for the duckling and his chicken siblings. “The chicks now cuddle up with the duck since it's now as big (maybe bigger) than Mama,” Sugarman said. © Courtney Sugarman When the weather gets warmer, the new brood of babies will be released outside, where they can enjoy nature. But even when the little duckling can rejoin the other ducks, Sugarman thinks he’ll still prefer to spend time with his chicken family. 

“I think it's going to end up hanging out with the chickens more,” Sugarman said. “It doesn't love to swim like the others did when they were this young. It just kind of floats around peeping and squawking until we put it back with the chicks.”


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