It’s Father’s Day, 2015, Florida! Scooter Wonders, “Are Florida’s Wild Bird Dads Underrated?”
We often hear about the hyper, almost maniacal, protective natures that wild bird mothers -of any species- show towards the safety and welfare of their offspring. I’m not saying Florida’s wild bird Moms are crazy taking care of their kids, just that Dads can sometimes be a hoot, too. And maybe, just maybe, they deserve some credit for some of that wacky parental behavior we usually assign solely to Moms. Let’s read about some of the ways Florida’s wild birds fathers can surprise us with their nurturing efforts and sincere defense of their wild bird babies.
We hear stories of wild bird mothers moving babies, lodging nests and guarding fledglings as they learn to fly. We see them perched in vigorous defense against cats, dogs, predatory birds, and the common and average landscaper or Girl Scout on unexpected approach towards a nesting area. We have all been there. But, as Father’s Day approaches along our Florida shores, Scooter, in his infinite wisdom, wonders on the recognition -or lack-thereof- of Man. The male of the species… each of us has one… a Father. Even Scooter has one! However, although stories surface from time to time, we don’t often hear too much on the important roles father birds play in the crucial aspects of raising healthy, strong and vibrant young birds. And why does this matter, you ask? Scooter did, too…so we went to look into the details of how some birds raise their young and to highlight, for Father’s Day, just how critical the male of the species can be in order to ensure the longevity of Florida’s Wild Bird population. Parenting... it aint just woman’s work!
Cardinals: The Male Cardinal, highly aggressive during its breeding season, will risk life and limb to defend its territory from interlopers. Crashing into windows, cars, doors and any number of reflective surfaces, the male cardinal is a passionate defender and loyal -to the extent of its socially monogamous nature- to its mate. While the female cardinal roosts upon her nesting eggs… the male will forage for food. As he approaches, this Florida wild bird favorite will feed its mate as she rests. As the babies are born and grow, both parents feed the young and the males apply a heavy and consistent emphasis on the direct support of their offspring.
Downy Woodpecker: The Male Downy Woodpecker is described as one of the most watchful and involved wild bird fathers. Seen throughout Florida, this wild bird father will do the majority of the incubating while the female watches from a nearby location outside the nest. Along with his attentive nature as the eggs incubate, Downy Woodpecker fathers will often remain close to their young even after they have left the nest. Often times, these wild bird fathers will still lead offspring to food sources, and feed them directly for some weeks even after their babies have fully left the nest.
Western Bluebirds: Male Western Bluebirds have a very intense role as a father. As a son, they serve as a help-mate or nanny to their younger siblings. While many a brooded clutch will leave the nest and disperse for pastures of their own, some male bluebird sons will remain with their parents. While staying near to their parents, male adolescent bluebirds will assist in feeding and raising the young of subsequent broods until the following season hen they too leave to begin a brood of their own.
Northern Mockingbird: Knowing that a strong foundation is the key to a successful family, the male Northern Mockingbird builds its nest atop a strong foundation. Designed with a stable undercarriage of thick vines, twigs and sticks, it is the father Mockingbird’s role to create the foundation of the nest. His mate follows his construction with her own touches on the interior, using soft linings of moss, leaves, and grasses shaped into a cup. While male Mockingbirds incubate far less than other birds (with the exception of the Hummingbird which does absolutely nothing after he mates with a female counterpart. Scooter is HORRIFIED!), they do vigorously defend and protect their nest, their mates and their offspring. Often seen perched above their fledgling young, male northern mockingbirds teach their young to fly while fending off any perceived danger in an area that could reach a circumference of several hundred feet.
So while mother wild birds are often rightfully touted as being the glue that holds the nest together, let’s not forget that male wild birds also play a very crucial, yet highly underrated and underreported role in the lives of their Florida’s baby wild birds. With gregarious displays of protective fervor, Florida’s male wild birds prove that no matter the size, no matter the beauty, no matter the assumed fragility… a father of any feather, is a diligent protector, provider and loving partner.
Check out these great gifts for dad and have a happy Father’s Day from Wild Birds Unlimited in Clearwater/Safety Harbor, Florida!
Cool eye gear and some great reading material for your dad on Father’s Day!