update: coworkers only ask me about ducks

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer who took care of her company’s ducks and that’s all anyone asked her about? Here’s the update.

It’s been almost a year since I wrote in and the ducks remain a big deal. They’ve been on the local news twice and in the newspaper! They are very cute and nice but the scale of interest is inexplicable to me. If anybody watched Parks and Rec, they are our Lil’ Sebastian.

What’s been most helpful, as you and the readers suggested, was adjusting my own attitude and going with it. I get stopped every day and asked how the ducks are and I say they’re great. Sometimes folks stop me just to tell me they saw them (they are immediately outside the back door) and I just say yep! Super!

With all that’s challenging in the world, I’m going to lean into the mysterious joy these charismatic waterfowl bring.

Please enjoy these videos of them playing in the pool and discovering a mirror!

{ 157 comments… read them below }

  1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    Thank you so much, these videos are making me smile non-stop! Just adorable. Happy new year!

  2. kt*

    You are super gracious :) To lean into it given the other crap going on in the world does seem to be the best answer… and everyone knows you at work, so try to leverage that for something if you need it!

  3. Three owls in a trench coat*

    I’m having a pretty rough day and these ducks were a brief but much-needed ray of sunshine. Thank you, Alison and Letter Writer!

    1. Bazinga*

      I’m glad you can now enjoy the duck talk. I have to admit, I would be talking to you about them regularly too. They’re probably more fun to talk about than anything else work related.

  4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

    Not gonna lie. I’d be one of those annoying people asking about the ducks before anything else.

    1. kittymommy*

      Same, DANGER, same. If animals are ever involved it’s a pretty much 99.9% guarantee that is the conversation I will want to have at all times.

    2. TravelJunkie*

      Yup me too. OMFG they are so cute. They’re definitely a palate cleanser among the buffet of crap going on in the world!

    3. Hills to Die on*

      Same, same. I also could not be the duck caretaker because I would just play with them all day.

  5. Aquawoman*

    And on the upside, people are going to be prone to think positively of the LW just because of the association with the beloved ducks.

  6. Detective Amy Santiago*


    Best Update of the Decade.

    Now we just need someone to write an epic ballad about the ducks.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I was thinking of a children’s counting book with ducks in a bucket, and each page has another duck in the bucket. (It’s not really a bucket, but the phrase ‘duck in a bucket’ has a nice sound.)

      One duck in a bucket, what a pretty view. Another duck joins her and now there are …
      Two ducks in a bucket, we can clearly see. Another duck joins her and now there are …
      Three ducks in a bucket, all that we adore. Another duck joins her and now there are …
      Four ducks in a bucket, there isn’t room to dive. Another duck joins her and now there are …
      Five ducks in a bucket ….

      1. Amber Rose*

        Five ducks in a bucket, playing with sticks, another duck joins her and now there are…
        Six ducks in a bucket, it’s cute duck heaven, another duck joins her and now there are…
        Seven ducks in a bucket, let’s all celebrate, another duck joins her and now there are…
        Eight ducks in a bucket, isn’t it divine, another duck joins her and now there are…
        Nine ducks in a bucket, it stopped there but then, another duck joins her and now there are…
        Ten ducks in a bucket ….

        1. Phony Genius*

          If anybody is an illustrator, maybe this can become a thing. The (probably) first children’s book sourced from a website’s comment section. But be aware that Alison would be entitled to most of the profits.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            The illustrations will be easy – OP will take photos of the ducks at opportune times, and those photos will be the background. Alison and the OP can collaborate, and I’ll be willing to buy a copy when it is published.

      2. Millennial Lizard Person*

        Five ducks in a bucket, let’s take some pics. Another duck joins her and now there are…
        Six ducks in a bucket, it’s ducky heaven. Another duck joins her and now there are…
        Seven ducks in a bucket, this is great. Another duck joins her and now there are…
        Eight ducks in a bucket, swimming so fine. Another duck joins her and now there are…
        Nine ducks in a bucket, they’re all friends. Another duck joins her and now there are…

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Anyone have connections with Sesame Street? Because this could work so very well for the Count!

  7. Buttercup*

    Now that I’ve seen the videos of these ducks, I understand why everyone is so obsessed with them! They’re adorable! Seems like you’ve hit on a good way to handle the duck mania, too, which is awesome!

      1. Catabodua*

        I would also be annoying you about the ducks on the regular.

        I’m seriously wondering how folks get work done when there are ducks to watch.

    1. LGC*

      I can’t believe it took this long to get to the Duck Club post.

      (Related: I am addicted to @ducks.ig and everyone should check that Instagram out. Also, @duck_page on Twitter.)

  8. Contracts Killer*

    We have pet ducks and people are over the moon for them, like way more so that other adorable pets we’ve had. Something about ducks seems to make people so happy. They are pretty fun little guys to watch…if you don’t have to clean up after them.

    1. Not All*


      I love my ducks (and their eggs even more!) but absolutely nothing on earth creates filth like ducks! If I had to keep them confined to a pen instead of free ranging most of the time I don’t think even the eggs would be enough incentive to keep them. Having to dump & clean their water dishes & pool every single day year round is enough work as it is!

  9. Feline*

    What kind of ducks are they? I have several species in the pond behind my house, but I am not familiar with those.

    My sister worked with animals as a small part of her job, and at family gatherings, people wanted her to tell Himalayas-related stories. It was probably the first time she had held,the floor among more conspicuously successful cousins. So your experience seems typical, OP.

    1. Not All*

      Not the LW, but have had egg laying ducks for decades. Those look like Welsh Harlequins. They are generally a nice, low-key breed that has good egg production and the drakes are meaty enough for dinner so they are a very popular breed for small homesteads.

    2. Daffy Duck*

      Yup, I second those as probably Welsh Harlequins. I have raised WH for about 12 years, they used to be a critically endangered breed (yes, domestic breeds can become endangered!) but we now have enough animals and people across the United States they are on watch status.

  10. Jackalope*

    Started watching the duck videos and my cat perked up; he loves bird videos, although for reasons very different from my own. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Campfire Raccoon*

    As someone with ducks, chickens, turkeys, goats, dogs, cats, tortoises, AND children : I, too, would only want to talk about the ducks.

    You’re a champ, and a good person for putting up with all of us. Thank you for the update and the video!

  12. Ray Gillette*

    Good job OP, now not only your coworkers but the entire Internet will be asking you about the ducks!

    Seriously, thanks for the update and the adorable videos.

  13. Blisskrieg*

    I think it’s Vitamin N (Nature). If there’s anything we’re starved for…

    The ducks are like a pica craving for our deficiencies.

    Love them!

  14. OwlEditor*

    OP thank you for the videos! They are adorable and I would find myself resisting the urge to ask you about the ducks.
    I have two cats and I’m becoming known at work as the “cat lady” but I’ve learned to embrace it because they bring me such joy and I think people want to share in good feelings and cute animals.
    You’ve made my day better, so thank you. I actually follow a farm in the UK that posts videos of the animals (ducks, and donkeys and geese and cats!) just because it cheers me up. You are right, with all that’s challenging in the world, I think we all just want to share in something sweet and simple that lifts our hearts.

    1. kittymommy*

      LOL, I have 6 and yeah…cat lady is a title I have acquired. Not only did my boss get me a coffee mug with “crazy cat lady” on it, I would not be surprised to find the title added on to my next order of business cards!

    2. SSG*

      I also have two cats.

      At a conference last year, a fantastic Nobel prizewinner I’d been dying to meet recognised me from the internet, and walked over, exclaiming “so you’re the crazy cat lady!”

      I’ve never been prouder…

  15. Falling Diphthong*

    Can we adapt the advice for those who don’t want to be asked about their jobs? Set up a little duck sanctuary in the next cubicle?

  16. Fikly*

    There was a local medical practice I used to go to fairly often. Two story building, nearby pond, local geese population.

    For some reason, this spring, two mother geese decided this building was the ideal place for a nest. The first chose a flowerbed about 4 feet from the main entrance, against the buliding. This seems unwise, given the peole traffic, but when you hear about the next one, she will seem like a wonderful mother.

    The second goose laid her nest on the roof. Yes, the roof. Now, baby geese are not fed by their parents bringing home food. They have to get up and forage from day one. So the only way they would be able to get food would be by falling off the roof. Why on earth she picked a roof two stories up was a topic that fascinated everyone, staff and patients alike, during the weeks before the hatching. I do not know if there was a happy ending, where they were rescued by ladder, but I hope so!

    Adorably, a small fence (about 8 inches high) was set up around the first nest to protect it from the oblivious. She and her eggs were watched carefully, and they did hatch, promptly waddled off to the pond (which was really about 1/4 mile away) and the remains were cleaned up.

    1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      I read a story about a different goose that nested on a roof. Her goslings were fine. They don’t weight anything really, so when they jumped off, they simply tumbled to the ground without harm.

    2. Now in the Job*

      Was it a Canada goose by chance? If so, there are literally federal laws that prohibit touching them. The species was critically endangered in the 60s and 70s and it’s one of the greatest success stories of conservationism in the United States. They’re now classified as “Least Concern,” but the protection laws are still in place.
      I know all this only because my workplace had a goose lay her eggs on the top of a 6-story parking deck that I could see from my window. You ARE legally allowed to, effectively, “hassle” a Canada goose to get it off your property. One of my coworkers basically crouched and spread his arms and “encouraged” the mother goose and the goslings through the entire parking deck to get them out of the structure.
      BUT one of the other interesting things I learned is that goslings are surprisingly hardy! There’s even a breed of goose that lays its eggs up high on rockside cliff faces to avoid predators. The goslings have to literally jump out of the nest and bump and roll and tumble down like 60 feet of rock face. Some of them don’t survive, but the barnacle goose is also a least concern status species, so they are doing quite well nonetheless!

      1. Noblepower*

        I had an internship at a zoo once and one of the peacocks that roamed the grounds decided that the highest point in the gorilla enclosure was the place to raise her family. The babies started tumbling down into the main area and for some reason hung out by the silverback. We had to go retrieve them because the poor silverback was having a devil of a time trying to maintain his street cred whilst gently shooing these fluffy little chicks away. We simply died with laughter (but naturally not where he could hear us)!

        1. Fikly*

          Was this the Bronx Zoo, by chance? They have roaming peacocks.

          I remember a news story once about one that went on a field trip and ended up on a subway, and I think in a different borough! Quite the adventure.

      2. cacwgrl*

        We are on the migratory path for these goose. They are still protected, especially on Federal land and they are the bane of our existence all fall/winter/early spring. They KNOW you can’t do anything to them and they will literally block our roads. All of the roads. They migrate between the golf course and the town’s baseball fields and ugh, they are the worst. They only get on the ground on base, I swear it’s because they know no one will touch them. Even the police are in on it and will stop and put up flashers when they’re blocking both lanes. They aren’t afraid of cars, trucks, test equipment, car horns or anything. We literally have to sit and wait or drive around a different route some days. I was touring interns one day and they didn’t believe, until we literally came across the geese and sat in the van for a few minutes until they decided they were done.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Wow! I didn’t know that it’s illegal to touch them, but I’ve always tried to give them some space because geese can be aggressive.

        2. Jennifer Thneed*

          Here in the Bay Area, we have a large cohort of Canada geese that don’t bother to migrate anymore. Adorable babies, yes. Messy high school athletic fields, also yes. But there are some folks who make a good living doing canine-goose-harrassment. What a life for a dog! Chase the geese! Make them fly! Get praised for having fun! Great use for a working dog that really wants to work. And it doesn’t hurt the geese, it just discourages them from setting up housekeeping.

  17. I'm just here for the cats*

    You should set up a camera feed of the ducks so your coworkers can.check on them. When they ask you about the ducks you can recommend that they check on the camera

    1. RVA Cat*

      That’s a great idea! Plus they could send us the link.

      (So glad this is about actual ducks and not Duck Club – though it wouldn’t surprise me if they had a cam….*cringe*)

    2. Constance Lloyd*

      Or a monthly duck newsletter filled with pictures, videos, fun duck anecdotes, even a duck employee of the month. I’m picturing that zoo that does a good penguin/bad penguin each month.

    3. TimeTravelR*

      Somewhere in the comments OP said they do it occasionally, but can’t all the time due to there being no power out there.

  18. Amber Rose*

    When I was a kid, my class raised a bunch of ducks. We got them as eggs and cared for them until they hatched, and then until they started growing in their adult feathers (then we had to give them back to the farmer.)

    I gotta tell you, I have had a deep love of ducks ever since. They are just adorable, lovable critters, and the way ducklings play in water is basically a healing potion for the soul. I’m sorry that people bug you about them all the time, but hopefully the existence of ducks helps ease that some.

  19. Archie Goodwin*

    Long years and a couple of jobs ago, I stepped out of my office for an afternoon break and saw a mother duck with ducklings waddling down the sidewalk towards the DC waterfront, in the middle of afternoon foot traffic. I still cherish the memory of the Department of Education employee from the building next door, in shirt and tie, who started following them at a little bit of distance to make sure that they made it to their destination unmolested.

    One of those all-too-rare moments when official DC collides with its surroundings. But, you know, with ducks.

    1. MayLou*

      There’s a town near where my dad lives which has a flock of geese living on the road by the train station. Quite literally on the road – often on the pavement, but also sometimes where the cars drive. They are beloved by residents and everyone slows down carefully to avoid hurting or scaring them. When a couple were injured or killed (can’t remember) by an escaped dog there was an outcry and a police investigation. I didn’t know all of this until last week when I drove to the station to pick my brother up for Christmas and came to a startled halt.

      1. Archie Goodwin*

        Yeah – but I was working in the suburbs by that time. Nothing interesting ever happens in Newington.

    2. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Haha something similar happened in my neighborhood, a mother duck and ducklings were trying to cross a busy road. A couple of employees from a nearby store went out and helped stop traffic, the people who stopped rolled down their windows to marvel at the ducklings.

  20. migratingcoconuts*

    I’m sorry, but those ducks are so stinking cute! No wonder you get asked all the time. In today’s world, everyone needs something like this that is so innocent and so joyful. Thanks for sharing!

  21. MechanicalPencil*

    I didn’t realize my laptop speakers are on, and there is absolutely NO explanation you can provide for why there are quacking noises coming from your cube that seem plausible. But they are adorable, particularly the mirror video when they seem to realize just how truly fabulous they are.

  22. A. Ham*

    That one duck that wanders by inside the enclosure, presumably going about his normal day, while the rest of them are having fun is a big holiday week mood for me. haha

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      She’s just chillin like yes hello I am duck doing duck things going about my very normal duck day.
      I love background duck.

  23. Need a new name for the new year*

    That is officially my absolute favorite update ever. Thank you OP for the videos.

  24. anon24*


    If you ask me what animals I love, ducks never come to mind. But their cheerful quacking always instantly fills my heart with indescribable joy. At my one job we had a small creek that cut through the property. Every year when spring came we had a small family of ducks that would show up. I think my boss and I were the only ones who paid attention to their existence. They only showed up when spring was truly there. If a warm spell came, but no ducks, you knew more snow was on the way. And if it was 20 degrees (F) out but the ducks were back, you knew that the snow was over and warm weather was coming very soon. I remember one morning I was having a bad day after a long miserable winter. I was first to arrive at work and I got out of my car and was trudging across the parking lot when I heard their familiar quacking. I just dropped all my stuff in the middle of the parking lot, turned around and ran to the creek. There they were, happily splashing around. All my co-workers thought I was a little nuts that day because I greeted them all with “OMG the ducks are back, spring is finally here!”

  25. The Phleb*

    Thank you for making my year! Not sure why this fascinates us so much but there is a lot of joy here and we all need a little bit! Glad you are doing well too!

  26. Auto Generated Anon*

    Thank you Allison and OP! I really needed ducks in my day today.

    OP, looking at the comments above – I suspect the people commenting on having just seen the ducks really mean “hi, I just saw the ducks and they made me smile and thank you because I needed that and thanks for the duck program”. But that would be awkward…but if it helps to hear that in your head instead sometimes.

  27. MaggiePi*

    Now I want to get ducks! (I don’t think they’d get along with the dog though…)

    Is there an advantage to ducks vs chickens? Ducks seem way cuter; I have just never heard of anyone keeping ducks for eggs before, always chickens.

    Would your work be up for something like live streaming the ducks on a small tv or tablet somewhere easily visible? People would probably get a kick out of it and it might take the attention away from you. I applaud your new attitude towards the whole thing!

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        Gosh, yes! Chickens are chatterboxes. The roosters are the worst, with all the crowing, but a folk of hens can generate plenty of noise, even without a male around.

        My grandma kept chickens, and I have fond memories of waking up in the morning to the hens cluck cluck clucking good morning to each other.

      2. Duck (and goat and dog) Mom*

        I don’t have chickens, but my girl duck is SO loud. She doesn’t talk much, but she has the loudest, bossiest “QUACK quack quack quack quack”. It’s hilarious. The boy is very chatty, but has a super quiet voice. I wonder what they are saying to each other (and me…).

  28. OP*

    I feel very happy that the ducks are able to spread their good feelings even farther! Thanks Alison!

    We did a livestream for their first birthday and it was a big hit. There’s no power in their living area so it’s tough logistically to do all the time. They are easily accessible from our building so I’m happy to encourage folks to take a stroll outside instead. Good for everybody!

    1. Third or Nothing!*

      Awww I love that y’all did a birthday livestream! That’s adorable. Please tell me there were hats involved. Or at least a little duck friendly cake.

  29. Elizabeth West*

    If anybody watched Parks and Rec, they are our Lil’ Sebastian.


    Sorry, I couldn’t help myself, lol. You got that song stuck in my head. And thank you for sharing the duck videos, OP. :)

    1. ScienceLady*

      I’m picturing OP shooting the camera Ben Wyatt-esque bemused looks every time people go nuts over the ducks like he did with ‘Lil Sebastian!

      1. Flyleaf*

        I agree. I saw this posting before I headed to the grocery store, and it was sticking in my head as I entered the meat aisle. Duck breasts and asparagus, very tasty.

  30. QuinFirefrorefiddle*

    You know if you’re company had an Instagram account for the ducks they’d probably increase their visibility a lot and you could point people at it when they ask. Everyone loves duck pictures!

  31. Not So NewReader*

    Thanks for sharing the video, OP.

    I am glad you found a happy place about it all. And know that you made me smile and probably a bunch of other folks, too.

  32. Third or Nothing!*

    I got some of the worst news a person can get this morning and this is exactly what my heart needed today. Bless you for updating and sending videos.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        No one is dying. All will be well eventually, we just have some things we have to work through now.

  33. All Hail Queen Sally*

    I love ducks and will show the videos to my elderly cat when he wakes up from his nap. He gets so excited about bird videos.

    I work at a yarn store that has cats for adoption (one at a time–through a program with a local shelter) and at least a third of our customers say they come in just to meet the cat (buying yarn is an afterthought). People who come for yarn are disppointed if we don’t have a cat the day they come in. I love working there–it is a dream come true–cats and yarn together!

    1. nep*

      What a lovely combo–a yarn store with cats for adoption.
      And how lovely for you to love working there so. Enjoy.

  34. Jean (just Jean)*

    Ducks!! Conversational quacking!! Nice mellow visuals and audio for the last hours of the current year.
    Thank you for sharing these. Happy new year.

  35. Snarflepants*

    Thank you for OP! Your confused/benign/acceptance of our enthusiasm regarding cute waterfowl is appreciated.

    Just saying, “Yup! Those are great ducks” with a wry expression is enough.

  36. TimeTravlR*

    I grew up around animals of all kinds and sizes, and still, when I see ducks, I am like… awwww. ducks!!

  37. Jdc*

    This reminds me of the first day I put my dog in daycare. I was really not supposed to be looking on the internet but opened the camera to see him. My boss walked out and I thought I was in trouble. Nope. She loved it and we kept the pups up for a while.

  38. Former Employee*

    In case no one else has suggested this, the OP might as well go all in and call herself The Duck Whisperer.

  39. Random Thought*

    byyyyyyyyyyye byyeeeee lil sebastian. missed you in the saaaaaaaaaaaddest fashionnnnnnn

    byyyyyeeeeese bye lil sebastian, you’re 5,000 candles innnnn the wind

  40. TrainerGirl*

    Years ago, I worked in an office that had a flower garden right outside my window. A duck laid her eggs in there, and we started feeding her and giving her fresh water every day so she wouldn’t have to leave the nest. It became a reason for people to visit my desk to look in on them, and the day the eggs hatched was just nuts. There were at least 20-30 people standing in my cube. Until mama marched her flock down to the pond, it was a constant stream of visitors. They were so cute that I didn’t mind.

  41. bwayne*

    Good for you to have that interest and reaction from people at work and around the community. Being the “duck person” is much better than being a “lower-middle level” worker drone. I am all sorts of things in life but many folks think of me as the “chicken man” because of the birds I had and eggs I sold. So what?

  42. JediSquirrel*

    I missed this post, but I would have turned this into such a soap opera. “Well, Justine got back to the nest only to find Vivian sitting on it. Justine and Charles got into such a quacking match after that. And of course Charlie, who can’t hold his pond weed, waddled into a fence post and just collapsed there in the straw.”

  43. Heffalump*

    A LW wrote a while back wrote, “I take care of plants, and people think it’s easy.” (couldn’t seem to find the link) I think there’s a similar dynamic here–people think plants and ducks are cool!

  44. Goya de la Mancha*

    Maybe it’s just me, but I kinda feel like the ducks deserve a 24/7 streaming video…

    Obviously it would be purely for morale purposes of all employees. A stress reducer, etc. and should thus be funded by the company.

  45. Red wine and carbs*

    I have no idea what sort of ducks they are, but they are the most adorable quacky things that anyone has ever seen. If you want to be bothered less, get less adorable quacky things. These are literally the cutest ducks ever. There are loads of boring ducks out there. Get boring ducks, or ‘lean in’, and get these precious quackers on instagram.

  46. Duck (and goat and dog) Mom*

    I love this update!! So much. Except that it makes me think my own ducks need an upgrade. :) They don’t get a swimming pool during winter (but they do get plenty of fresh water refills!). And now they obviously need a mirror.

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