We celebrate Father's Day today. I doubt whether fathers expect the same attention that was shown to mothers on their special day.
Although roles are changing, it's still mom who gives birth, feeds, changes most of the diapers, nurses the sick child and takes care of all other duties associated with raising children.
Of course, we dads help. Still, I think the bond between a mother and child is greater than that between a father and child.
Some might think that men who take an active role in raising their offspring is a new concept. Not so.
In the Bible, it states, "There is nothing new under the sun." Consider this - in the animal world, males of some species have been doing traditional female jobs for eons.
Males of penguins, frogs, toads, seahorses, fish and many insects take full responsibility for raising their young.
Usually, the male bird protects its territory and the female incubates the eggs.
In most species of birds, the male is the most colorful, with the female usually drab in comparison; however, in the kingfisher family, it's the female who is the most colorful. She displays a rufous-colored breast band, which is absent in the male.
In the majority of species, it's the female that does most of the nest building. However, in the kingfisher family, it's the male who digs an underground chamber for a nest. The female will lay her eggs, usually a clutch of six, on a pile of regurgitated fish scales.
Also unusual is that the male kingfisher will do most of the sitting on the eggs and, after the young hatch, he will do most of the feeding.
A trip to almost any body of water will assure you'll see water bugs.
According to "Parenting Papas," by Judy Cutchins and Ginny Johnston, most water bugs can stay underwater for a long period of time because a thin film of air is trapped by microscopic hairs on their bodies, which allows them to breath underwater.
However, they must come up for air occasionally.
In the spring, the giant water bug will seek a female while underwater. After finding one, he puts on a courtship display that appears as if he is doing push-ups.
If the female approaches him, he grasps her with his forelegs and fertilizes her eggs.
The female then climbs on his back and lays about 100 eggs. At the same time, she releases a sticky glue that attaches each egg firmly to the male's folded wings. He then carries the eggs until they hatch.
The male water bug spends most of his time on the surface, while clinging to plants. He must stay near the surface so the eggs receive enough oxygen.
In 12 days, the eggs hatch and the young will cling to the father for several hours before swimming away.
The empty egg mass falls off his back, and he will seek out another female to mate.
With the father carrying the eggs, there is a greater chance for hatching.
However, there are a few of the 20 species of water bugs, in which the female attaches the eggs to a floating plant. These eggs are more prone to predation.
How about the male toad? After the female toad lays a string of jelly-like eggs in the water, the male swims, twisting and squirming among them, causing the string to wrap around his thighs. For the next month, the male carries the eggs wherever he goes.
To make sure they do not dry out, he spends quite a bit of time soaking in the water.
When the young toads are ready to hatch, the male toad heads toward water. This is important because the young tadpoles will have gills and need to breath underwater in order to survive.
We fathers could take a lesson from nature. However, through the years, I've found it much easier to say, "Mary Alice, the kids need your help."
Bower retired after 34 years as a wildlife conservation officer for the state Game Commission. He has published several books about his experiences. Questions and comments may be sent to him at 153 Redington Ave., Troy PA 16947.