A Father’s heart without dreams for his children is like a bird without wings

We share some lessons from great father figures in the bird kingdom.

A father figure takes many shapes and forms. He is the strength of the family, protector and comforter. Little needs to be said about the influence a father has on his family and in the natural world, we find similar influences. In many animal species, the father plays a pivotal role in the success and survival of his offspring.

Let’s take some lessons from great father figures in the bird kingdom.

Some fathers go to extremities to care for their young, ensuring they have the best chance of success and survival once out in the world on their own. Most species take parenting very seriously and often provide near suicidal physical protection against dangers including predators. Some are in fact willing to sacrifice their own lives in order to assure the survival of their young.

The Wandering Albatross: ‘the great co-parent’

The great wandering albatross bird species is a great example of co-parenting in the birding kingdom. These monogamous pairs mate for one season but in many instances for life. The reason for these species being monogamous is due to the fact that the female of this species is unable to incubate and rear offspring without the male’s assistance. This is because albatrosses breed on remote oceanic islands and therefore need to fly across vast expanses of ocean to find food. These are long and can take up to a week for them to return while the partner remains at the nest with the eggs.

(c) Tina Cornioley, University of Zurich

The Emperor Penguin: ‘the great stay at home dad’

This is a great example of a present father who will stick with his child through good times and bad weather. After the female lays the egg she needs to feed in the ocean for two months to replenish her nutritional reserves. The male penguin remains behind on land to nurture and protect the egg from the freezing winter by perching the egg between his feet and brooding pouch. Unable to move too suddenly he has to protect his egg from freezing winds reaching up to 120 miles per hour. This is a great example of a father who with little means will offer his child everything it needs to prosper.

(c) Antarctica.gov.au

The Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill: ‘the great bread-winner’

The amount of effort it takes to ensure ones’ progeny grow up under the best conditions possible and are well fed takes hard work. A great example of this behaviour is the enigmatic Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill. This overworked father spends 6 weeks feeding both the female and his little chicks which are safely huddled in a nest barricaded up by a mud wall. Once the female and chicks are ready to feed, she will break open the nest to allow for food delivery by the male in the opening. What a great provider this father is.

On behalf of EcoTraining, we want to wish all the great fathers out there a wonderful Father’s Day. We salute the sacrifice and dedication it takes being a father figure. Hope you have a special day filled with love and fond memories.