Mariton: Happy Father’s Day

June 16, 2019

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.

A Bluebird Dad with his rambunctious kids.

There is a lot of variation amongst bird species as to how much support the male provides when raising their young. In some species the male is a no-show, in others the male provides a lot of support.  Eastern Bluebird males help with building the nest, according to ColinHarrison’s Nests, Eggs and Nestlings of North American Birds, and I’ve watched males taking nesting material into a box.  Bluebird females do most of the incubation, but males also help.  Most often I see the males bringing food to the female in the nest box when she is sitting on eggs.  After the eggs hatch, both parents can be seen going into the box with food to feed the young birds.  After the birds fledge, Dad rears and educates the young, while Mom lays eggs and incubates another brood.

While I knew all of this occurred, I had never given it much thought until I opened this nest box the other day and saw Dad peacefully resting with his brood. These chicks will leave the nest box in a week, and perhaps Dad is giving them some advice about what they will encounter when they leave the safety of their nest box.

Dad and me after working on their own nature preserve.

My Dad is a wonderful guy. He was there when I needed him and he built me all sorts of cool toys, but he worked a lot when I was growing up to provide for our family.  When I became a teenager, I got to go to work with my dad.  Then I got to see what kind of man he was, and what kind of man I wanted to become.  I spent several years working with Dad during summers.  Eventually, I left college for a few years to work with him year round.  He gave me a lot of advice, but I learned so much just by observing his dedication, respect, and the way he observed the world around him.

Mon and Dad’s house is a wildlife blind that my dad designed and I helped build.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandfather and my dad, and they were huge influences on me. They both worked outdoors, and in hindsight I’m not surprised by the professional lifestyle I chose.  I get a kick out of the fact that when my dad retired he finally had time to pursue his own love of nature.  He designed their last house to be a live-in wildlife blind and he spends most days there reading and watching the birds and other animals in their back yard.  In his 90’s now, he is still a keen observer and he hasn’t stopped teaching and nurturing me.  Thanks Dad!