Five-year-old Kylie Brown of Freeport, Maine, has a very special relationship with a duck that her parents brought home last summer.
The duck, named Snowflake, imprinted on Kylie when he was a duckling.
Animals "imprint" at a very young age when they recognize their parent and begin to take their behavioral cues from them. This imprinting is their earliest social attachment, so it sticks with them for the rest of their life. This was first studied in depth by Austrian scientist Konrad Lorenz, who discovered that ducklings and goslings imprinted on the first moving object they came into contact with, even if the object was inanimate.
The period for imprinting may only last a few hours. In Snowflake's case, it came at just about the time he met Kylie.
Now Snowflake thinks of Kylie as his mother. And Kylie agrees.
The two are inseparable.
"(Snowflake) goes everywhere that ducks are allowed," says Mike Brown in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning's Steve Hartman, "and almost everywhere they're not allowed."
The video interviews with Kylie and her parents are remarkable in that they show just how close the bond between animals and humans can get. Snowflake follows Kylie everywhere. It's not that Snowflake thinks of Kylie as a duck, necessarily. It's that she is, in a very real sense, his mother — the only mother that he knows.