Mandarin duck hen with ducklings in South Korea
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This lesson is going swimmingly. Teacher Appreciation Day
This mandarin duck and her cute little charges seemed a fitting way to illustrate Teacher Appreciation Week, which peaks today on Teacher Appreciation Day. She is leading by example, safely guiding the next generation on their first forays into the world. Hopefully we appreciate the dedication and wisdom of our teachers year-round, but this special day is certainly a timely reminder. For the last two years educators have battled the staggering challenges of the COVID pandemic; rallying their students, whether online or distanced and masked in the classroom; and doing their best to give children a safe, nurturing environment for learning. Their commitment has helped build a strong foundation for young people's future well-being and happiness, and it taught the value of community and resilience.
This duck convoy is an adventure in early education too. After a month of hatching time, the mother urges the chicks to leap from their nests high up in trees (don't worry, leaves and grass protect them from the fall) and head for the water. This duck is clearly a female, as she lacks the brightly colored, showy plumage of the male—and she does have a distinctive white circle around her eye. Don't be surprised if it's usually a female leading the family swim—the moms are left to raise up to a dozen chicks while the dads go off to molt. While this division of the sexes may sound unfair, it's important to note that mandarin ducks are monogamous and mate for life. That's why they are symbols of love and fidelity, and carvings or illustrations of them are often given to newlyweds in China and Japan.