Hope & Healing Through Photography and Poetic Expression


Her curtains are drawn, as ducks convene
The stage is set for rest and dreams;

Most will slumber through and through
Others sacrifice sleep, to protect their crew.

~ Robyn Lee

The following is a bit of duck trivia that I found fascinating, demonstrating how, even at the most primitive level, living beings instinctually develop systems to protect their own. If you examine my photo above, you can see which ducks are ‘protecting’ this evening.  Enjoy!

Much Love ~ RL

Dr. Niels Rattenborg has studied sleep patterns of birds, including ducks. He monitored the brain waves of ducks as they sleep and learned some interesting things. Ducks often spend the night together as a group, often sleeping in a row. The ducks on the end of the row or outside of the group are easily spooked by any movement nearby.

They sleep with their eye away from the group open, while the other eye is closed. Rattenborg found that one of the hemispheres of the brains of these outside ducks was functioning at 100% capacity while the other hemisphere was in sleep mode. Apparently the duck has the ability to sleep with half the brain at a time asleep while the other half is fully responsive to the environment.

There is an obvious advantage to this system. Not only is the duck protecting itself by being constantly awake on the side that danger might come from, but the duck is also protecting the other ducks in the center.

Discover, May 1999
Scientific American, May 1999

32 responses

  1. ~R.L.King

    that was interesting! I’ve never heard of it before, thanks for sharing and lovely photo

    May 5, 2012 at 12:11 AM

    • Thanks so much R.L. Yes, I too found this duck ritual so interesting. Appreciate your feedback and so glad you enjoyed the post!

      May 5, 2012 at 12:18 AM

  2. Beautiful and fascinating!

    May 5, 2012 at 12:16 AM

    • Thanks Julie… yes thought so too 😉

      May 5, 2012 at 12:20 AM

  3. Very interesting subject and a beautiful picture. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    May 5, 2012 at 12:18 AM

    • Thanks Francis… wishing you a peaceful eve!

      May 5, 2012 at 12:21 AM

  4. I’m going to share this with my sons this morning! And I really love the photo Robyn. Its so peaceful:)

    May 5, 2012 at 5:31 AM

    • Oh so great to hear that David. I was thinking how this post might be cool for kids to read:) Glad you liked the peaceful scene in the photo as well ~ let me know if your boys thought it interesting (how old are they?) Sending good thoughts…

      May 5, 2012 at 3:35 PM

      • 15 and 14 and they liked it…we talk a lot about outdoor things (obviously hehe)

        May 5, 2012 at 3:46 PM

      • Really lovely. They are lucky to have you as a Dad and ‘nature guide’ 😉

        May 5, 2012 at 4:12 PM

  5. Interesting Robyn, seems that my hound dog does that too…howling at any movement outside one moment, snoring the next:)

    May 5, 2012 at 8:26 AM

    • 🙂 Thanks Meryl…he may sleep with one eye open like the ducks ?!

      May 5, 2012 at 3:37 PM

  6. isn’t that kind of like a Mom…sleeping with one eye open 🙂 Love this picture Robyn!

    May 5, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    • Yes Jeannie.. so much like a Mom- but it seems the members of the Duck tribe take turns playing this role, while moms seem wear the protector hat forever more!! 🙂 So glad you liked the photo!

      May 5, 2012 at 3:39 PM

  7. Nature is such an awesome teacher. Beautiful photo. Hope you are doing well Robyn.

    May 5, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    • I thought the same thing Sofia! Thank you so much!

      May 5, 2012 at 3:39 PM

  8. Adds new weight to the saying about “sleeping with one eye open.”

    Beautiful photo, Robyn. Thank you. 🙂

    May 5, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    • Thank you Scott… yes – maybe where the expression comes from?

      May 5, 2012 at 3:40 PM

      • 🙂 You’re welcome.

        May 6, 2012 at 12:24 AM

  9. Jill

    Beautiful shot. Lovely composition and color palette.

    May 5, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    • Oh thanks so much Jill. So glad you enjoyed it….peaceful I thought — need much of that right now!

      May 5, 2012 at 3:41 PM

  10. victoriaaphotography

    What a fascinating piece of info. on ducks.
    Love the photo – great capture of the mauve/pink colour in the reflection on the water AND the silhouette of the ducks on the water too.

    May 5, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    • Thanks Victoria… so glad you liked the elements of the photo, and enjoyed the little story it inspired me to tell. Yes the silhouette of the ducks is rather mysterious I think! 🙂

      May 5, 2012 at 3:42 PM

  11. Oh my – beautiful photograph, what lovely dusky colours 🙂

    May 5, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    • Thanks so much Alexandra! I love dusk-time… Appreciate your comment and happy to have you visit 🙂

      May 5, 2012 at 3:55 PM

  12. as darkness looms inviting creatures of the night to come out to play,
    these ducks seem to have developed an inner ” all along the watchtower ” tune
    to help keep them safe and sound …. another prime example of the true wonders of nature …
    thanks for the very informative and interesting share once again Robyn …:)

    May 5, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    • Thank you Jimi — always love your insightful comments… yes I agree the ducks and their ritual is another example of natural wonders. So glad you enjoyed it!

      May 5, 2012 at 9:49 PM

  13. Love the photo, poem and scientific “fun fact!” I’ve been a little absent from the blogging world lately Robyn, I’ve gotta get caught up! Looking forward to your little bits of inspiration that I’ve missed over the past week.

    May 5, 2012 at 11:22 PM

    • Thanks so much KT. Hope all is well with you…and happy you are back!

      May 6, 2012 at 12:26 AM

  14. Randy Roberts


    May 6, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    • Thanks Randy! Thought so too:)

      May 6, 2012 at 10:12 AM

  15. Chris

    Well you learn something new everyday and this is really interesting information. My eyes are constantly drawn to the stunning distant horizon with the silhouette of trees set before it, that with the ducks protecting their own make this one of my favourite pictures you’ve posted, thanks for sharing Robyn.

    May 7, 2012 at 5:50 AM

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