Backyard ducks and the healing power of music

This winter, one of our Indian Runner ducks, Ana Sophia, hurt her leg in a bad way. We have no idea what happened, but it may have been related to the ice. The poor baby couldn’t walk, so she had to come live inside with us for a couple of months.

We had originally thought it might be just a couple of weeks, but I read online that healing a badly injured and possibly broken duck leg can take a long time. It did indeed!

At first, Ana Sophia lived her days in the guest bathroom tub, and I would feed her throughout the day by hand and then put her into her nest we made for her at night. After about a week, she grew lonely being in the tub all day, so we would bring her, in her little nest, into our family room where we work, homeschool, and live our lives, so she could hang out with us.

image of duck

This is Ana Sophia during her visit with us in the house.

She would sit in her little nest and listen to our conversations and our music. Our youngest son is learning to play cello, and Ana Sophia would always quiet down a lot when he would play. We also found that she would seem more content in her nest if she could listen to classical music throughout the day. We listen to a lot of classical music, so it was easy to keep her satisfied. When we had to leave the house, we would put on some of her favorite music.

After about five weeks of extra-good care and some careful physical therapy, Ana Sophia was moving about the house. It was our son’s first cello practice with Ana Sophia out when we noticed some fascinating: When Ana Sophia heard our son playing, she stopped whatever else she was doing, scooted her little self right up to him, and sat down to listen to him play!

The first day this happened, we were in awe. Our son practiced about an hour and a half, and that little duck didn’t move the whole time. Ana Sophia is a busy-bodied duck, so this was very unusual.

The next day, I decided I had to try to catch this on video, and it would not be difficult. She did the very same thing, only we found she really liked one song in particular, a song with deeper notes. Once again, she scooted right up to our son playing cello and sat there the whole time he practiced.

This went on every single day that Ana Sophia was inside the house with us. She loved the cello! We researched and found that there is some research to support what we were seeing from Ana Sophia. Apparently, brains of birds and humans respond to music similarly. You can read more about it here.

But I also have some pretty compelling footage. In an effort to get our son to practice his cello more, we let him start a YouTube channel of his cello journey. You have to check out this episode he devoted to Ana Sophia, our cello-loving duck.

Ana Sophia moved out a few weeks after the making of this video. She had been visiting her people more and more each day as she healed, and one night, she decided to stay. It was a tough night on this mama, but I was happy she was healed.

She now runs around with her people like nothing ever happened, but as soon as the weather warms, we’re getting our son outside to play his cello for those ducks. I want to see if Ana Sophia remembers.