From time to time I find that there is a great deal of insight and understanding that can be gained from animals, and while it is easy to laugh at the silly antics of animals, sometimes there are more poignant lessons that can be learned as well. And so is the case today, as I would like to talk about the duck who thought he was a chicken. How does this happen, and what does it mean for us? Let us read on and discover.
Once upon a time, some close friends and distant relatives of mine got a group of chickens as well as a mating pair of ducks to take care of in their expansive yard. During the various depredations of animals like coyotes and raccoons, it got to the point that the duck was all alone and its mate was killed. How is a duck that is surrounded by chickens to respond to this sort of situation? Ducks can be moderately fierce after all, for all of their cuteness, and one never knows how friendly a brood of chickens is going to be. In this particular case, though, the duck was fortunate in that he was not left an outcast, but was befriended by the chickens who considered him one of their own kind. This is fortunate, because a solitary and odd human being will not always find the same sort of welcoming behavior among beings of his (or her) own kind, much less that this duck had with beings of a different kind.
How was it that this duck fit in, though? This particular duck likes to roost at night, although it is not easy for a duck to roost since it does not have the same sort of claws that a chicken has to grab hold of a stoop, and there is video footage that my friends have of the duck wobbling and not being able to keep balance, which is greatly amusing to them. That said, though, it does show a great deal of commitment on the part of a duck to even try to act like a chicken, especially because a duck is not equipped for it and cannot be expected to do it very well. Ducks are more nocturnal than chickens, at any rate, and having an insecure location to perch does make for rather light sleeping or napping, I would imagine. At least it would for me. I can understand the level of commitment that is required to fit in in an entirely different culture–chicken culture as opposed to duck culture.
What can be done for such a duck, though? As a bit of an odd duck myself, it is easy to respect and appreciate an animal whose loneliness has led it to try to fit in with another sort of bird. Obviously, the ideal sort of solution for a lonely duck is for there to be another mate to pair off with. It is not good for ducks to be alone and all that. Whether or not such a solution is chosen, though, we should not be blind to the opportunities that we have to learn from ducks or from any other animals who we happen to see in the course of our existence and whose responses to isolation can be of insight and encouragement to us in our own lives.
Postscript: After I wrote this, I was informed that after having obtained another duck, my friends/relatives found that the duck had returned to his normal duck-like behavior, including nipping at the chickens, once he had another duck to socialize with. Indeed, as I had suspected, it is not good for a duck to be alone.