Nanaimo man befriends duckling after his dinner unexpectedly hatches

Khim Kaing was planning to cook a Cambodian delicacy for dinner — a duck egg. But instead of his culinary plan hatching, his wife discovered a duckling had.

“He was out of the egg,” says his wife, Leanne Marlow, before showing me a video of the baby bird’s head poking out of the shell. “So it was like, no eating him!”

The couple decided to keep the duck and named him Tiny.

“He was so cute,” Marlow smiles, recalling how the bird would fit in the palm of her hand or perch on top of one her children’s heads.

Kaing woke up at five o’clock every morning to care for Tiny. He would spend three hours with the duckling before work, hand-feeding him a breakfast of bugs on a stick, before allowing him to cuddle near his neck.

“I got to really take care [of him],” Kaing smiles. “[Be] gentle [with him].”

One of the best times with the bird was tub time.

“He was so tiny in the bathtub,” Marlow smiles, before showing video of Kaing leaning over the tub’s edge protectively watching the duckling swim. “But he got bigger! So his bathtub had to get bigger!”

And when Tiny outgrew the kiddie pool, Kaing started taking the duck for rides in the truck. The now full-sized bird rides shotgun on their way to have fun.

“They have a very special relationship. Tiny only wants to be with Khim,” Marlow smiles. “They go fishing on the boat together. They go out on the lake. They go for walks.”

I first noticed the dynamic duo walking along the beach together. Tiny follows Kaing everywhere. No matter how many times the man turns, the duck is close behind.

“He’s stuck on me!” Kaing smiles, looking down at Tiny. “It feels really good!”

But perhaps the best thing about walking together is how it inevitably turns to talking together.

“He makes this special noise,” Kaing says, before imitating the way Tiny quacks at him.

Kaing learned to how to respond to Tiny in a way the duck seems to understand and uses the sounds to give directions when the bird gets distracted.

“I go, ‘Quack, quack, quack,’” Kaing smiles. “Then he starts coming back.”

And now there’s no turning back to Kaing’s original culinary quest.

“No more eating [them]!” Kaing smiles. “Because they come out smart like a human do.”

Instead, Kaing says his goal is to care for Tiny the best he can. It’s what parents do.

“I’m his mom,” Kaing laughs, before Tiny waddles off to their next adventure together. “And his dad too!”