Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Father’s Day Tribute, REGIs Foster Dads at Work
( Photo: Doug,our foster dad Bald Eagle is a wonderful dad to the 8 week old eaglet that was admitted a few weeks ago after suffering a fall from his nest near Chippewa Falls. )
It’s Fathers Day. For several years now when Fathers Day comes around I wish I could share the incredible dads at REGI with everyone. I realized this year through the blog I could.
People are often surprised to hear that we have several foster-fathers at REGI. These special dads raise orphaned babies, which have brought to REGI, without the benefit of a female partner.
( Photo: Frenchie our Richardson's Canada Goose is a great foster dad. Notice that head down position when I got close enough to take a photo? That means " These are my babies and if you are smart you will stay right where you are." This photo taken Fathers Day)
( Photo: Frenchie with the Canada Goose goslings soon after they arrived at REGI. What a great dad he is! The little ones were more his size when they were young. While they are all Canada Geese, the Richardsons is a smaller size that the Giant Canada Geese. The goslings very quickly grow larger than Frenchie. )
People think of a female as being the main “child rearing” parent. Even when we think about other animals our minds go right to mammal species. As mammals ourselves, we understand parenting of our most common pets such as dogs and cats or livestock such as cows, pigs or sheep. When consider ring wildlife species many people conjure up the thought of a lovely fawn or playful raccoons.
All of the moms above produce milk. They nurse their babies from the day they are born until they begin to eat solid food. Mammal moms ARE the main parent. Mammal babies have to be nursed to live. Creative humans have developed infant formulas and in recent days dads are taking a more hands on role in parenting, but they would be shocked to learn that avian dads have always had an active role.
Given that history it is understandable that many people mentally reject the fact that in the bird world the male is an absolute partner as a parent. Birds have a strong pair bond that often lasts their lifetime. Together they select nest sites, build nests and rear their young. If something should happen to his mate the male can and often does raise his own babies.
( Photo: This male Sandhill Crane
on the right, was captured in the fall by Doug Christianson, Wisconsin Rapids Police Office. The crane had a severe wing fracture and will not be able to be released to the wild, but is a great role model to the young cranes. What a gift he is to the REGI program.)
About twenty years ago I began using foster parents to raise orphans of the same species when they came to REGI. I reasoned that since we had “wild fostered” birds into nest where similar aged young were and the adults didn’t mind then maybe they would take care of babies at our wildlife facility. It worked perfectly. In all those years I’ve never had an adult bird reject a healthy baby. It was a few years into the process that I realized one of my favorite “foster moms”, Great-horned Owl, was a MALE! (There are not many external indicators the clue gender in many birds.)
( Photo: This young Great-horned Owl is lucky enough to have two foster parents. The dad is next to the owlet and mom is on the far left.)
( Photo: Adult male American Robin is a fantastic dad and role model for all of our young robins. He helps them with everything from learning vocalizations, to being aware of predators and hunting worms by hearing. We raise many American Robins at REGI during the spring and summer so our foster dad is one busy guy. )
So as they say, “the rest is history”.
Enjoy the photos most of which were taken on Father’s Day. We do have other foster dads at REGI but they do not have young right now.
We wish all the dads a wonderful Fathers Day from all of us at REGI.
Marge Gibson ©2009