As an amateur photographer and wildlife expert, it was no surprise that when Laurie Wolf discovered an Eastern Shriek Owl nesting in her Florida backyard, she began taking pictures to document the scene.
The brownish-gray owl had made a nest in a bird box that was located in her backyard. The nest had also been visited earlier by a duck. She started taking pictures of the unusual sight. After a short time, she noticed what appeared to be a baby owl nesting in the box with its mother.
As an animal lover, Laurie excitedly watched the pair. She carefully waited for her first real glimpse of the baby owl. When the day finally arrived, much to her surprise, it was not an owlet peeking out of the nest at her. It was a baby Wood Duck!
She rapidly captured images of the cute duo and submitted them to National Geographic. She said to National Geographic, “They were both just sitting there together. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it even now.”
According to sources, the owl had encountered a wood duck egg and raised it as her own. Since shriek owls and wood ducks share similar habitats, although uncommon, it was not impossible for such a situation to occur.
As natural predators, shriek owls eat a variety of small prey such as mice, voles, insects, reptiles, amphibians, and even poultry such as ducks. When Laurie noticed the wood duckling in the owl’s nest, she grew concerned about the owl’s intentions and decided to seek advice from wildlife experts.
Although the owl appeared content to raise the duckling as her own, it was deemed best to relocate the duckling to a safer location, given the owl’s natural instincts. However, when Laurie attempted to catch the duckling, it quickly ran toward the pond and disappeared from sight.
Despite not being able to relocate the duckling, Laurie remains hopeful that it will be reunited with its parents. Christian Artuso, the Manitoba Director of Bird Studies Canada, speculates that this behavior may have occurred because wood ducks practice brood parasitism, wherein they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, forcing the nest owner to raise their offspring.
While we may never know how the owl came to incubate and raise the wood duckling, we can appreciate the unique and adorable sight that Laurie captured in her photographs. Please share this heartwarming story with your loved ones.