Friday, July 25, 2014

DIFFERENT STROKES: Such mixed families even look pleasant and cute. Sights like this- of a mother hen looking after a brood of ducklings, is not rare in rural Sikkim even though they might draw attention in the more urban setting like Gangtok where the above photograph was taken. This kind of duck, it appears, is not a very caring parent, so while it lays eggs, it does not have the patience to hatch them. Now, duck eggs take around 29 days to hatch, so people with such ducks need to have a mother hen around to take care of the roost and then slip in these eggs slightly in advance into the mother hen’s roost. Hens hatch eggs in 21 to 22 days. She will hatch the duck eggs along with her own. Sometimes, she is left to hatch only duck eggs. They make an interesting family for a while, the ducklings with their webbed feet instinctively running to water, slush and earthworms, even as the mother digs up feed and scrapes and scratches around.

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