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Little Ducklings in a Row

My parents live on a lake in Central Wisconsin. At the lake you get to watch nature’s routines in action.

This year we have two families of ducks around. The ducklings are of various ages, with a large group of almost purely yellow/brown fuzz (super cute!) and a smaller group that appear to have left the nest and their mother’s eye, but still feed in a group.

We light a fire in a fire pit every night around 7:30 p.m. and the rest of our family comes and we talk about all the exciting things we did that day. Not long after, the first family of ducks typically come by. This is the younger, fuzzier set, with mom watching them from behind. They hop and waddle up the rocks onto the grass and start to feed underneath the bird feeder by the dock. Shortly thereafter, they waddle, in nearly a perfect straight line, up to a feeder by the fire pit. When they’ve picked what they can find, they make another beeline across the yard and feed underneath the neighbour’s bird feeder.

Just about when they get to the third feeding location, a fight typically ensues with the other duck family, who are larger in size but smaller in number. They don’t like the invasion of their territory. The other duck family puffs up, makes loud noises and chases the entire family of smaller ducks into the water. When they get a little rough, momma duck steps in between and gives a little sass, giving the ducklings enough time to escape to the water.

The same thing repeats itself every night.

You’re probably wondering why I would document such a sighting on an HR blog. Well see, here’s the thing, new employees are a lot like ducklings. They go as they’re taught; they follow a linear path; and while they are learning the ropes and gaining confidence, their manager may run interference at the first sign of a scrimmage. For them to succeed, they need guidance, places to feed and general nurturing. When they get older, they run the risk of being territorial.

And it took a little fight in the yard by a bunch of ducks to make me realize this.

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