By Becky Oskin, Senior Writer | August 01, 2014 03:16pm ET
A family of long-legged shorebirds adopted a fuzzy baby duckling this month in California's San Francisco Bay.
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) biologist Jarred Barr discovered the duckling among a brood of downy avocet chicks on July 2. "It was just following right behind the adult avocet and chicks like it was another avocet," Barr told Live Science.
The blended family was foraging in wetlands at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve, part of the massive South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project. Barr found four avocet chicks and the mallard duckling, each just a few days old, plus two avocet parents. "We don't know how the duckling got separated from its family, but they were all feeding already and copying the adults," he said.