Thanks, Dad!

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Dear Dad,

No other animal hunts so hard to find food for his family. I’ve watched you wiggle into narrow nooks to nab rodents, scamper up trees to inspect bird nests, and dive underwater to catch fish. You’re an all-terrain predator, Pops! Even when you’re exhausted from hunting, you still find the strength to carry me if I’m too tired to walk. But my favorite is when you let me ride on your back when you go swimming!

Love, Little American Mink

Dear Pop,

Most kids love piggyback rides from their dad, but you go the extra mile. Ever since Mom glued her eggs to your back — all 150 of them! — you’ve been carrying us around wherever you go. Staying on the move makes it hard for pesky predators to eat us. In a few weeks, I’ll hatch and swim away forever. But before I do, I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you!

Love, Little Giant Water Bug

Dear Dad,

Keeping Mom fed while she sat on our nest must have been a ton of work. After all, she’s about a third bigger than you! And when my brothers and sisters and I hatched, you had even more hungry beaks to feed. But I love watching you dive from high in the sky — WHOOSH! — to knock unsuspecting birds out of the air for our dinner.

Love, Little Peregrine Falcon

Dear Father,

You’re the best actor I know! If a hungry coyote gets too close to our nest, you skitter away and pretend to have a broken wing. You put on quite an act, thrashing about and dragging your wing. The gullible coyote thinks it’s going to score an easy meal, but all the while, you’re leading it far from me and the other chicks. When we’re out of danger, your wing magically “heals,” and you fly away to safety. Bravo, Father!

Love, Little Killdeer

Dear Pa,

I know most furry fathers don’t stick around to raise their kids. But I’m glad you did. Mom needs all the help she can get! She keeps having babies. There were five in my litter, and we were her third litter this year! I like when you help her groom me and carry me by the scruff of my neck when we move to a new nest.

Love, Little Prairie Vole

Dear Dad,

I know you were worrying about my safety long before I was born. Why else would you build 12 different nests and only use one of them? Mom says the extra nests are decoys to keep predators from finding our real home. I hope they work! Thanks for doing so much to keep our family safe.

Love, Little Sedge Wren

Dear Papa,

Most humans think only mama mammals make milk. But I know that’s not true. Ever since I hatched, you’ve been feeding me milk. And it’s good that you do. Mom can’t make enough for me and my sister! When I’m hungry, I stick my beak inside yours and a yummy liquid flows down my throat. It comes from your crop, that pouch at the end of your food tube. It must be good for me. My feathers are already starting to sprout!

Love, Little Mourning Dove

Howl’s it going, Pop?

You’re such a playful parent I couldn’t pass up the chance to crack a joke. I’m glad you play with me so much. When you let me pounce on your back and chew on your ears, I know you’re helping me get stronger and training me to catch prey, like rodents and rabbits. Yum! I can’t wait to go hunting with you, so I can try out everything you’ve taught me.

Love, Little Coyote

Dear Daddy,

I know you’ve had your wings full since Mom left. For most bird families, mom and dad work together to raise babies. You’ve had to do it all by yourself. You finished building the nest. You sat on the eggs. You stretched out your wings to shield us from hot sun and cold rain. Each day, you lead us to the shoreline and keep a lookout for danger so we can skitter about, snapping up yummy insects. It must be hard being a single parent, and I want you to know how much I appreciate everything you do.

Love, Little Spotted Sandpiper

Dear Dad,

You make plunging beak-first into a stream look easy! But diving for dinner is hard. And scary! I didn’t want to do it at first. But I was soooo hungry! When you dropped that dead minnow into the water, I didn’t even think about it. My rumbling tummy took over, and I just aimed my beak at the fish, folded my wings, and ... dived. Thanks for being such a patient teacher.

Love, Little Belted Kingfisher

Dear Papa,

I know people call you all sorts of not-nice names, like devil dog and snot otter. But to me, you’ll always be a devoted dad. Would people call you names if they knew how hard you fought with other hellbenders to win this rock we live under? Or that you guarded Mom’s eggs and the babies that hatched from them for nearly two months? If they knew you like I do, I bet they’d change your name to “super salamander”!

Love, Little Hellbender

Dear Pa,

After using your tail to sweep out a nest for Mom’s eggs, you went a fin further. You stood guard over our nest to protect me and my siblings from schools of egg-slurping sunfish. And you swished your tail over us — over and over again — to keep algae from growing and provide plenty of oxygen for us to breathe. Thanks for being a fin-tastic father!

Love, Little Catfish

Dear Father,

Thanks for working so hard to bury this dead bird that we live on. I heard it took you nearly a whole night of digging! And thanks for feeding me meat from the bird when I get hungry. It’s nearly unheard of for an insect to care for its young. It’s even rarer for both parents to pitch in. I guess you and Mom aren’t so ordinary!

Love, Little American Burying Beetle

Dear Pops,

When I grow up, I hope I’m as brave as you! While Mom sat on the nest, you stayed a few waddles away to keep her safe. If a fox or raccoon wandered too close, you scared it away with angry hisses and honks. Once our little flock of fuzzy goslings hatched, you and Mom herded us to a nearby marsh where the water kept us safe from predators.

Love, Little Canada Goose

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