Leaders of the Quack: An informal look at the social habits of waterfowl.

First of all, this has nothing to do with the leadership quality of ducks. But read on, if you're so inclined. This morning I was walking to work at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Right by the south tip of Lake Union, I saw a crowd of waterfowl made up of a flush of ducks & a gaggle of geese (I guess it was a flaggle). The ducks were quacking, the geese were honking, and all were chowing down on scraps of bread presumably strewn by a previous passerby.

Quack, honk, quack, noise noise noise.

A sparrow touched down in the middle of the flaggle. Then, nothing. All the waterfowl ceased their racket. Not a sound. The sparrow cocked its head up at the towering ones, and then it started to strut around, like a damn cocky pigeon. After a minute of this, the sparrow chirped intermittently, as if to say "Me too, right guys? I'm cool!"

This continued for quite a while, with the ducks and geese more or less eying the sparrow.

Then, a quack. Followed by a few more. Soon, all the ducks were quacking. The geese began to honk as well. The sparrow strutted and chirped some more, then began to peck at the bread scraps.

The sparrow seemed pretty pleased with itself; It had become part of their gang!