Spotbill Duck as Surrogate ParentCall Ducks Incubated and Hatched in Kyoto
A brood of seven ducklings hatched from Call duck eggs that were incubated by a Spotbill duck at Fukuchiyama City Zoo, in Izaki, Fukuchiyama City, Kyoto Prefecture. The Spotbill duck carefully kept the eggs warm for about 20 days in place of the parent ducks which abandoned them during incubation. The breeders look fondly on the scene of the Spotbill duck roaming with the duckling brood, just like a blood-related family.
A Call duck is a small duck with a body length of approximately 30 centimeters. The zoo has bred five Call ducks, and a female among them laid eggs in a breeding shed. At first, she brooded over the eggs. However, in mid-May, a snake got into the shed, where it apparently attacked them and ate some of the eggs.
Since then, the mother Call duck has had a fear of snakes, so even after laying new eggs, she would not incubate them. So, the female Spotbill duck, which was also raised with the Call ducks in the breeding shed, began sitting on the eggs instead. The Spotbill treated the eggs as though she had laid them herself, even cautiously attacking the breeders who would enter the shed. Around noon on June 4, a breeder who went to care for the ducks found the eggs were hatching.
In the shed, the Spotbill can be seen walking around with the adorable brown or yellow ducklings, teaching them how to swim or eat food. Toshikuni Nihonmatsu, the curator of the zoo, said, "It is very rare that a bird will incubate eggs of different species and raise them. The lovely mother duck and ducklings can be seen until around autumn. Please come and have fun."(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)