August 08, 2019

Researchers in Wisconsin are astonished to find loons raising a duckling as their own
When Dr. Walter Piper saw a pair of loons taking care of an orphaned duckling, he was "flabbergasted." Piper runs The Loon Project, which studies the species in northern Wisconsin. He's been researching loons for nearly three decades, and told Good Morning America that mallards and loons are "usually enemies," and a loon couple raising a duckling has "never been reported before." This unusual family was spotted by Piper and his team on a Wisconsin lake in mid-June. "It's touching and crazy and undeniable but these loons love this duckling and vice versa," he said. While observing the trio, they saw that the loons were "fiercely protective" of the duckling, and noticed it was picking up loon behaviors, like diving for food and standing on its parents' backs. The researchers believe the loons likely had a chick that died, and they decided to raise the lost duckling as their own. Piper said that since this is uncharted territory, he has no idea what to expect from this pairing, but his team is looking forward to watching what happens.

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