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Active Animal Dads

Nature provides different models of parenthood with the male of some species bearing the brunt of childcare.

Spotted sandpiper bird perches on a log in a body of water.

Photo: Philippe Bouvier (Flickr)

The male spotted sandpiper incubates fledgling eggs after the female leaves in search of a new mate.

Hey Moms, are you tired of hearing how it’s the females who do all the housekeeping and child-raising in nature? Today for a change, we’ll take a look at a few very involved fathers.

Nesting

Even though nesting is commonly associated with females, it’s the male’s job to sit on the eggs in some species.

The male spotted sandpiper incubates his clutch of eggs and takes care of the fledglings while the female goes off to look for another mate. And the male Panamanian poison-arrow frog sits on his eggs until they hatch, and then carries the tadpoles to water.

Teamwork

The male stickleback fish works closely with the female to produce healthy offspring and protect them from predators.

The male builds a nest from vegetation and secretions from his kidneys. After the female lays her eggs inside this nest, the male fertilizes them and flattens them into a sheet. The female lays more eggs, and the process repeats itself until there are up to seven layers of eggs in the nest.

Ever the devoted father, the stickleback male tends the layer-cake of eggs, aerating and sorting it to create optimal conditions. And once the eggs hatch, he keeps close guard and gathers runaway hatchlings in his mouth and spits them back into the nest.

For the stickleback, keeping the little ones out of trouble is a joint effort.

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