Monday, June 21, 2010

Animal Dads of Note

From the US FWS Newswire and Friends of Hagerman NWR

Good dads make the going easier. So with Father’s Day having just been celebrated on June 20, it’s a great time to look at the animal kingdom, where some dads’ flair for parenting can make the difference between life and death. Here are a few devoted animal dads and some National Wildlife Refuges where they live.

Role model: Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Reason: The male of the species makes an attentive father, especially in the first month after birth. While females nurse the cubs, the fathers carry hunting duties and bring food to the den every four to six hours. But fathers do more than deliver the bacon, they plays with their pups, too. As they get older and stronger he teaches them to hunt and hide from predators. Meal service ends when the pups reach three months in age.

Some refuges where you may spot him: Seatuck Refuge, NY; Innoko Refuge Alaska; Missisquoi Refuge, Vermont; Stewart B. McKinney Refuge, Connecticut.

Role model: Great horned owl (Bubo virginianus)

Reason: While his mate warms their clutch of eggs, the male owl catches small rodents to feed both him and her. Once the eggs hatch, he hunts for and feeds the whole family.

Some refuges where you can look for him: Target Refuge, New York; Pea Island Refuge, North Carolina; Bosque Refuge, New Mexico; Wertheim Refuge, New York; Hagerman NWR, Texas, Aransas Refuge, Texas; Tallahatchie Refuge, Mississippi.

Role model: Ruddy duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)

Reason: Unlike many of his duck buddies who spend their time courting and playing the field, the male ruddy duck shares responsibility for his young.

Some refuges where you may spot him: Malheur Refuge, Oregon; San Pablo Bay Refuge, California; Pea Island Refuge, North Carolina; Montezuma Refuge, New York; Muleshoe Refuge, Texas.

Role model: Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)

Reason: Flamingos tend to mate for life and the male helps feather his mate’s nest. He then takes turns with her sitting on it. When their single egg hatches he shares childrearing duties.

Some refuges where you may spot him: Aransas Refuge, Texas; Archie Carr Refuge, Florida; Arthur M. Loxahatchee Refuge, Florida; Cedar Keys Refuge, Florida; Caloosahatchee Refuge, Florida.

Role model: Barking tree frog (Hyla gratiosa)

Reason: The male makes a distinctive contribution to parenting. He sticks close by until the eggs are hatched preventing them from drying out by dousing them with urine.

Some refuges where you may spot him: Carolina Sandhills Refuge, South Carolina: Pocosin Lakes Refuge, North Carolina: Santee Refuge, South Carolina.

For more information on any listed refuge, visit Use the “Find Your Refuge” tool to search for refuges by state, alphabetic listing or zip code.

For more information about activities and events at Hagerman NWR, see

Photo: Great Horned Owl by Eileen Sullivan

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