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Avian motherhood is a mixed bag. Peregrine Falcon mothers share duties fairly equally with Peregrine dads. At the other end of the spectrum is the female hummingbird, which usually carries the entire burden of nesting, incubating, and tending the young. And then, there's the female Western Sandpiper: she usually leaves the family just a few days after the eggs have hatched!
Written by Ellen Blackstone
This is BirdNote!
Motherhood. In the avian world, it’s a mixed bag.
Peregrine Falcon mothers share duties fairly equally with Peregrine dads. [Cakking of a Peregrine] Both incubate the eggs, although Mom usually spends more time at the task. For the first three weeks after the eggs hatch, she alone broods the young, and the male hunts to feed the entire family. When the young fledge, both parents feed them, and at the same time, teach the young birds to hunt for themselves. [Cakking of a Peregrine]
At the other end of the spectrum is the female hummingbird. [Wing-hum of a Rufous Hummingbird] She usually carries the entire burden of nesting, incubating, and tending the young—a true single mom. The male stays around, but only to protect his territory. He’s mostly a pest! [More wing-hum]
And then, there’s the female Western Sandpiper. [Chattering sound of Western Sandpiper flock] She finishes a nest the male has started. And they share incubation duties. But Mother Sandpiper usually leaves the family just a few days after the eggs have hatched. The male tends the young until they’re able to fly. It makes sense – the female needs to replenish herself. The eggs she laid almost equaled her body weight. [More chattering]
Have you seen the new BirdNote website yet? It’s amazing! You can see photos and nest cams and videos and find all kinds of resources. Check it out at BirdNote.org.
Bird audio provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Peregrine Falcon recorded by G. Vyn. Hummingbird wing hum recorded by A.A. Allen.
Western Sandpiper calls recorded by Martyn Stewart, naturesound.org
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org May 2012 Narrator: Mary McCann
ID# 051407motherKPLU mother-01b