Bird Dads that go the Extra Mile

Bird Dads that go the Extra Mile

Courtesy of Kyletracysrs, Wikimedia Commons

Some bird dads are better than others, and this Father’s Day, we are celebrating the ones that go the extra mile – sometimes literally – to keep their family safe, sound and, most importantly, fed!

Snowy owl

In a snowy owl family, moms and dads split their parenting duties: mom is in charge of taking care of the nestlings, while dad is in charge of keeping everybody fed. If he’s had a particularly good run, it is not unusual to see piles of dead rodents lying around the nest; clutch sizes also vary depending on the amount of food available. In times of plenty, they can lay as many as 11 eggs!

Illustration by Jaka Vukotič

Sandhill cranes

Sandhill crane dads are real family birds. They are supportive partners that help build the nest, and share incubating and feeding duties. That’s not all: their young don’t immediately leave the nest. Instead, families stick together through fall migration and the beginning of spring migration, as well as during winter so mom and dad can teach the kids a thing or two!

Illustration by Jaka Vukotič

Spotted sandpiper

When it comes to raising kids, some spotted sandpiper dads are on their own. Sometimes females are polyandrous, which means they mate with multiple males, up to four, and each will raise a clutch of three to five eggs. However, even when they are not, females are still the ones who defend the territory while males take care of nestlings, though she may pitch in to help a little!

Illustration by Jaka Vukotič

Baltimore oriole

Who remembers leaving for college and getting a care package from their parents? That’s just the kind of attentive parents Baltimore orioles are. They will feed their young even after they have fledged to give them a better shot at making it in the world. Sometimes, females will start work on a second nest before the first has fledged; in this case, males don the mantle of single dad and finish raising the brood themselves.

Illustration by Jaka Vukotič

Downy woodpecker

There’s no “I” in a downy woodpecker pair! Pairs do everything together, from carving out their nest hole to incubating the eggs and feeding the chicks. But somebody has to take the night shift, and in this species, it’s the dad! During the day, incubation duties are shared. They will both still feed and teach their young for up to three weeks after they leave the nest.

Illustration by Jaka Vukotič
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