Going to the Birds?

I sometimes use analogies from the bird world when commenting on the roles of fathers as protector and provider. Male birds protect the nests, hunt for food, and tirelessly partner with their mates in raising the young. Ospreys use sharp beaks and talons to fight off other birds of prey. Redwing blackbirds show extraordinary tenacity doing aerial battle with unwelcome and much larger intruders.

Today I watched another example of strong avian fatherhood. Looking out to the birdfeeders just feet from my kitchen window, I noticed a male Downey woodpecker vigorously pecking away at the suet and feeding the fledgling next to him time after time. Then I noticed that fledgling was bigger than the father. An ornithologist I am not, but I suspected that for weeks the father, and mother, had been foregoing meals as their plump offspring greedily gulped down the food they discovered.

There was a meme years ago that said “fathers eat last.” It spoke to the obvious sacrifice that good fathers make for their children. Birds have instinctively learned this lesson well.

On Father’s Day, let us recall the sacrifices that our dads made for us. Let us double down on our efforts to put our kids first. And let us do our best during this crisis of fatherlessness to restore fatherhood to its rightful place in our families and society.

Happy Father’s Day.