Laurie Wolf, an amateur photographer and wildlife expert, was not surprised when she spotted an Eastern Shriek Owl breeding in her Florida backyard and began photographing it.

The brownish-gray owl had built a nest in one of her garden bird boxes. A duck has also visited the nest previously. She began photographing the unexpected sight. She observed what appeared to be an owlet nesting in the box with its mother after a short time.

Laurie, an animal lover, was ecstatic to see the couple. She awaited her first true view of the baby owl with bated breath. It wasn’t an owlet poking out of the nest at her when the day finally arrived, much to her astonishment. It turned out to be a newborn Wood Duck!

She promptly snapped photos of the cute couple and forwarded them to National Geographic. “They were just sitting there side by side,” she told National Geographic. It’s impossible to believe. To this day, I find it hard to believe.”
The owl had apparently found a wood duck egg and incubated it as her own. Shriek owls and wood ducks are known to share certain habitat, so something like this wasn’t completely out of the question, even though it was exceedingly unusual.

Shriek owls eat tiny animals such as mice, voles, insects, reptiles, amphibians, and poultry, particularly ducks, as natural born stealthy predators. Laurie became concerned about the owl’s future intentions with the duck, so she sought guidance from wildlife experts.

Even though the owl looked satisfied to raise the duckling as her own, it was concluded that instinct would win out and the duckling would be better off being relocated to a safer environment. That was not to be, as the day Laurie attempted to grab the young duck, it bolted toward the pond and was never seen again.

Laurie is hopeful that the duck’s parents dwell in the pond and that they can be reunited despite her inability to locate the duck. She is ecstatic that she was able to witness such a rare pairing. “I don’t think I’ll ever have another event like that in my life,” she stated.

According to Christian Artuso, Manitoba Director of Bird Studies Canada, this could have happened because wood ducks engage in a behavior known as brood parasitism. Brood parasitism is an avian reproductive method in which birds lay their eggs in other birds’ nests, forcing the nest owner to nurture their young.

We can only guess how the owl nurtured the wood duck egg until it hatched or what she was thinking as she raised the tiny duckling, but we do know they were gorgeous.

We appreciate Laurie taking the photos so that we may all enjoy them. Please tell your family and friends about this incredible story.



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