The Ugly Duckling, who is a duckling instead of a cygnet, hatches in a hen's nest, much to the hen's surprise. He is immeditately rejected by the Mother Hen, as he is not like her own chicks. Throughout the short, he tries to get his hen mother's approval, but fails miserably as the Mother Hen keeps rejecting him. Later, when her chicks fights over a worm and get hurt, the Mother Hen drives out the Ugly Duckling away from her.
Shocked, the Ugly Duckling gives up of ever being loved and begins to cry. But then he notices a tornado nearby and warns the Mother Hen and her chicks. The Mother Hen and the chicks get inside a box while the Ugly Duckling is locked out. As the tornado lifts the box with the Mother Hen and her chicks, the Mother Hen falls from the box, and runs after the flying box to catch her chicks. Then, the box with the chicks falls into a river with a waterfall at the edge. The Mother Hen begins to cry when she loses hope of rescuing her chicks, but the Ugly Duckling, who can swim, quickly swims to the chicks' aid and he manages to bring them back to safety, much to the Mother Hen's delight.
The Ugly Duckling is then hailed as a hero, and the Mother Hen fully accepts him as her son for his heroic deed of resucing her chicks.