Happy Mother’s Day!

In an odd convergence of calendars, this weekend is a great weekend to be a mother of Mexican heritage living in the United States. May 10th is always Mother’s Day in Mexico, and May 11th happens to be the second Sunday in May, and thus the US celebrates Mother’s Day. Apparently it’s also Mothers’ Day in New Zealand and Australia. My hens and I will celebrate in style.

Of course, I am a step-mom, a very rare and wonderful breed of Mother. I had a great one, and I think I am a pretty good one. And that made me think of birds who are tricked into raising other birds’ chicks.

I think I mentioned the dove that sat on a cockatiel egg, but the chick was too strange for her to actually feed. And a co-worker whose cockatoo hatched out a mocking bird chick and is feeding it. That hen is finally not laying eggs, so there’s a method to the owner’s madness.

I’ve had society finches that would sit on just about any egg and feed the chicks, and I’ve had Gouldian finches, cut-throat finches, and canaries that would hatch the eggs then toss the chicks.

Cuckoos are the epitome of birds who foist their offspring onto other species to hatch and raise. Not only that, the cuckoo chick goes about systematically removing the other eggs from the nest. In a fascinating slice of evolution in action, some target birds are fighting back. http://io9.com/5785233/nest-stealing-cuckoo-birds-are-locked-in-evolutionary-war-with-their-would-be-victims

In the New World, we have cowbirds which have similar habits, but don’t always eliminate all the chicks of the foster parents. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/brown-headed_cowbird/id

Did you know that pelicans were considered the most excellent mothers of the bird world? People in medieval Europe believed that a pelican would cause blood to flow from its breast to feed its young if no other food came to hand. Er, I mean, beak. Well, actually it all got mixed up with the Christians drinking the blood of Jesus, because a little bit got lost in the translation, but there you go. http://www.ecphorizer.com/EPS/site_page.php?issue=56&page=902

Who hasn’t heard the phrase, “Like a hen with one chick?” Chickens are some of the best moms in the bird world, but they have it pretty easy. The chicks are precocious. As soon as their down dries, the are up and running, and following mom’s example of what to eat. Turns out some folks use one broody hen to hatch out a dozen eggs at a time. http://www.sagehenfarmlodi.com/chooks/chicks.html

Cats get along very well with poultry, it seems. My cat must be an exception, given the number of baby button quail that have vanished in her vicinity. But I remember a cute video of a kitten that liked to nap under a chicken. I can’t locate that video, but here’s a great article about a cat and a chicken with joint custody. http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/just-photo-hen-who-thinks-she-hatched-kittens.html

The oddest cat/poultry story I have seen in a while involves a mother cat, her kittens, and three ducklings. The ducklings actually learned to nurse on the cat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlqTHhdCQko

Lots of mother dogs are used in various zoos to nurse cubs of big cats. This page lists some of those plus more odd combinations, and some simple buddy adoptions. http://www.takepart.com/photos/six-strange-interspecies-animal-adoptions

And another such collection: http://www.salon.com/2013/10/09/20_heartwarming_stories_of_interspecies_adoptions/

A video of some of these pairs in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxYiLzWee84

And more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeB2vVBOLOw

Finally, a full episode of BBC’s Animal Odd Couples https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElMjoN_rlyI

Enjoy your day, give your moms some love from me, and I will be back on Wednesday.

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