Muscovy hen and ducklings resting in tall grasses.

How to Communicate with Wildlife

How to Communicate with Wildlife

Animal communication is based on routines.

Leon has become a morning conversationalist duck. He lets me stroke the top of his head. For a person of my tilt this is Christmas gifts at Thanksgiving dinner.

This crew: Melinda, Penelope, Leon, Priscilla, Tony, Gertrude, and Morty, gather in front of the dining room window at seven in the morning. The Avengers of ducks. They join together to stare a hole through the window letting me know it's breakfast time. Lined up with their superpowers they move only when I tap on the glass and wave. They shift in the direction I shift. The tapping says I will be there. Just wait. If I don't tap, this means not now, it's not meal service. At which time Morty throws rocks at the window hissing a curse upon the family inside.

Use props, sounds, and actions inside the routines.

On those mornings I tap, Leon moves closer to the door while the remaining Avengers move closer to the tossing area. They wait. Angus, a dog eager to watch all things, jumps up to watch through the window as I step outside with my yellow bowl full of whatever our parrots decided needed to meet the floor the day before.

Expect a wild answer. Accept a familiar thank you.

I toss and the Avengers scramble. Except Ironman Leon. He looks up, tail wagging, hissing happy points of opinion. I take a moment to crouch down to give an eye level hello. We discuss yesterday's events and today's plans at a high rate of speed. Leon is excited to share his world of duck. I am thrilled to answer while gently stroking his head in the direction of his feathers, never against.

"Wow, really Leon? What did you do when the squirrel insulted Melinda like that?"

"Really? I wouldn't have thought a toad could be so rude."

"Well, if you ask me, the lake has become a wading pool for the uncouth and ratty."

"No, I doubt crossing a street slowly is a smart move."

"Yes. Yes, I do think you should probably stay all day. Lunch looks promising and the always fresh water bowl will be maintained."

"Okay, Leon. I love you, too."

I lightly touch the tip of his bill. He wags his tail, hisses, and rumbles over to join the Avengers currently full throttle into parrot pellets and chopped apples.

Leon has been a regular in our world going on four years. It's said in some online naturalist articles Muscovy ducks don't fly well. They hate being touched and do not trust humans. It's also said that baby Muscovy tend to shy away and will never attach to a human. These words were all written by humans who never met a Muscovy over breakfast.

Priscilla and Penelope were babies brought to me by their mother two seasons ago. They all run up to the door to greet me with ducky trills and drake hisses. Wagging tails and expectations. They know what our truck looks like and when I arrive back from wherever I've been, I see them running to our yard ahead of me. They know. They trust.

Leave unreasonable expectations behind.

When you allow them to choose how to express their opinion of you, accept it as is, you have a male Muscovy named Leon waiting to tell you secrets and gift you with a moment of unconditional acceptance. Hearts accepting each other for who they are at that moment. Simple. Overwhelming. Beautiful. Not the duck poop all over the porch mind you, but the other stuff.

Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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